Scan two graphics-intense pages and you’ll discover the scanner-user’s biggest problem: It’s mind-numbingly slow. Even the “fast” machines eat up minutes. Good news: The latest version of USB technology, USB 2.0, is designed to chop those minutes down to seconds. Expect an onslaught of new scanners, some light enough to tote. But keep your expectations in check. They’re still scanners, after all.

PROS: Vertical-lift “Z lid” allows scanning of bulky items like books. Software can automatically fix flaws like dirt and scratches, or tone and shadow imbalances. CONS: Other models are powered through the USB cables; this one requires an external power source (and thus an extra plug). BOTTOM LINE: Innovative lid design makes 3-D projects easy. Best for desktop users. MORE INFO:
PROS: Purportedly five-and-a-half times faster than Visioneer’s current USB scanners. Comes with five handy, one-touch buttons — four preset, one customizable. CONS: The bundled software will be fine for light users, but it is less sophisticated than others on the market. BOTTOM LINE: Low price, fast scans, and slim design add up to a good value for basic scanning. MORE INFO:
PROS: Geared especially for scanning photos and transparencies, it comes with 35mm slide holders and a bundle of photo-specific software. Claims to be 70 percent faster than its Epson predecessor. CONS: At almost 7 pounds, it’s a bit hefty for carting around. BOTTOM LINE: If you scan lots of photos, especially transparencies, a specialized model like this one could be your best bet. MORE INFO: