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A scanner is a piece of computer equipment that can be used for many different purposes. Scanners essentially analyze the surface of an image or object and then recreate a two-dimensional digital image of that surface. The most common type of scanner today is the flatbed.
Flatbed scanners are used in offices for business purposes as well as personal or recreational uses at home. When scanners first hit the market several years ago they would typically sell for no less than $400. Currently they run as low as $75.
Many all-in-one systems now have a printer, fax, copier and scanner built into one machine and are priced under $75, though the stand-alone devices will be of a higher quality. Now that the technology is no longer new and prices have gone down, more people own scanners today. Just like printers, though, scanners require drivers specific to the model. This means you should check to see if the device will be compatible with the operating system you are currently running before purchasing one.