Flatbeds represent the most common and most affordable of all scanners. They are literally jacks of all trades, good for images, documents, and most general uses. They are perfect for everyday use and ideal for most users.
Low Cost Flatbeds are incredibly inexpensive and, in most cases, are great values to the average user. Because of a number of advances in technology and manufacturing, you now get a much better scanner with tons of additional features for less many than ever before.
High Quality Flatbed image quality is generally excellent, with even the lowest cost scanner offering extremely good image quality.
Flexibility Flatbeds offer users more choices in what to work with and how to work with them. They are good for text, great for images, and can sometimes even handle small three-dimensional objects.
Slow Scan Speeds Flatbeds generally take longer to scan an object than other types of scanners. That said, wait times are still minimal and most new flatbeds are much faster than models from previous years.
Large Size Flatbeds can be fairly bulky, taking up a lot of valuable desktop real estate. Those with limited space should lean towards CIS-based scanners.
Things to Look For:
Bed Size Make sure you know the maximum document size you ever expect to scan before purchasing a scanner. Most flatbeds handle originals sized at 8.5" x 11.7" or smaller. If you think you might need scans larger than that you might want to consider a higher-end model.
Included Software Flatbeds tend to be packed with additional software. Unfortunately, much of it tends to be limited versions of popular programs. Make sure the scanner you buy has the program and the version you really need.
Adjustable Lid If you plan on scanning bulky objects, like books you should be sure that the scanner's lid either adjusts or removes.
Interface Double-check that the printer you are buying has the appropriate interface for the computer you are using. A top-of-the-line FireWire scanner will do you no good if you only have a USB connection on your computer.
Accesories Many Flatbed scanners come with a number helpful accessories that will enhance your scanning experience. Two of the most commonly seen ones are transperancy/slide adaptors and automatic document feeders. Keep in mind that while these help bridge the gap between flatbeds and other scanner types they can't match their overall quality an reliability.