Flatbed Scanner Vs All-in-One Printer

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Updated November 11, 2022

If you are new to the world of printing, you may look to compare a flatbed scanner vs an all-in-one printer. Many of the best printers, after all, include a scanning feature that may rival some standalone scanners. So what are the differences between these two, should you choose from the best all-in-one printers, and what are the pros and cons of each? Keep reading to find out.


  • Dedicated flatbed scanners excel at one thing and one thing only. They scan documents, photos, and artwork via an automatic document feeder.
  • All-in-one printers typically include a scanning element but also a printer, a fax machine, an automatic document feeder, a USB port, and a copy machine.
  • With a dedicated scanner, however, you will get a larger surface area, a higher scan resolution, and no need for ink cartridges.

Differences Between a Flatbed Scanner vs All-in-One Printer

The main difference is that flatbed scanners just scan, and all-in-one printers do a bunch of things, which is similar to when comparing an inkjet vs an all-in-one printer. Many of the best all-in-one printers handle printing, scanning, copying, faxing, and more. Scanners are somewhat hobbled, features-wise, but scanner maintenance is generally easier than printer maintenance.

Insider Tip

If you are looking to save space, go with a multi-function printer, as it includes multiple units in one.

Here are more contrasts between the two so you can choose between a scanner and the best ink-efficient printer.


This one is a no-brainer. Scanners scan, and that is just about it. If you have a piece of paper you want to make a digital copy of, then a scanner is your best bet. However, multi-function printers also scan, in addition to copying, faxing, printing, and more. Think about your personal needs here. Do you just want a scanner to, say, scan a large number of official documents or even family photos? Or do you want the ability also to make copies and make prints?


Have you heard the phrase “jack of all trades, but master of none”? That could be lobbied at a multi-function printer with regard to its scanning capabilities. This is not to dismiss the scanning capabilities of an all-in-one, but dedicated flatbed models will just have more scanning bells and whistles. You will find larger scanning trays, more size options, and quicker scan times. Of course, you get this for a cost, as you will not have any functionality in the worlds of printing, copying, or faxing.

STAT: The flatbed scanner is the ideal scanner for scanning a wide range of documents, including business cards, invoices, pictures, and even irregularly shaped papers. (source)


Professional-grade flatbed scanners with advanced image sensors are extremely expensive, as they allow you to scan photos and artwork at a high resolution. When it comes to commercial flatbed scanners and all-in-one printers, there is only a negligible difference in price. On average, you will find multi-function printers to be slightly more expensive than an average scanner.

Scanner Vs All-in-One Printer FAQs

What needs to be considered?

A number of things should be considered, such as accepted paper sizes, duplex printing, replacement ink, and a wide range of other items.

What about ink-tank printers?

Ink-tank printers excel with printing tasks, such as borderless printing, without the need for ink cartridges. You will, however, need excess ink for refills. These printers can double as document scanners, so read the fine print.

How to buy an all-in-one printer?

Make sure it does what you need it to do. So check on the size of the paper tray, if it takes photo paper, if it reproduces accurate colors, and if it can integrate with cloud solutions like Google Drive. You should also read reviews to check if it causes paper jams and what the photo quality is like.
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