Numerous scanners now available for less than $200 offer better than adequate performance for school needs, such as classroom projects and student assignments. According to the author, the two most important features are the dots-per-inch (dpi) optical resolution of the machines and the scanning and editing software that is included with the purchase.

Here are some affordable scanners that offer school-appropriate features and quality. All have at least 600 x 1,200 dpi optical resolution, and some have a higher resolution where noted. They can all scan in 42 or more colors, and all but one are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh machines:

Agfa SnapScan e26 ( Price: about $155. This device offers a high degree of flexibility, in that it can send scanned documents to eMail, printers, and computers. Adobe PhotoDeluxe for PC, Adobe Photoshop LE for Macintosh, and Ulead Photo Explorer software are all included.

Canon USA N670U ( Price: $99. This is a very compact machine, measuring barely one inch in height. It can be programmed for “one-touch” scanning operations and has a one-year warranty. The scanner comes bundled with ArcSoft photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop elements, and ScanGear Toolbox. The N1240U model (priced at $149) provides even higher image resolution, at 1,200 x 2,400 dpi.

Epson Perfection 1240U ( Price: $269. This device comes with 1,200 x 2,400 dpi optical resolution. Independent tests by computer web sites indicate that it scans about twice as fast as comparably-priced machines. Epson TWAIN, Adobe PhotoDeluxe, and ArcSoft PhotoPrinter software are all included.

Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 3400cxi ( Price: $99. The ScanJet 3400 scans, copies, and eMails. Photo editing and web creation software from ArcSoft and Trellix Web are included, in addition to the HP ScanJet copy utility. The downside: It only comes with a 90-day warranty. The higher-priced ScanJet 4400cxi model ($149) comes with electronic fax capabilities, HP Share-to-Web software, additional ArcSoft programs, and 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution.

Microtek ScanMaker 4600 ( Price: $179.99. This internet-ready machine has 2,400 x 1,200 dpi resolution and three preprogrammed, one-touch buttons for scanning, copying, and eMailing. Its software bundle features Adobe PhotoDeluxe, AOL Internet Service, Trellix Web Microtek Edition, and Ulead PhotoExplorer. Also included are a combination digital-PC web camera and a tripod.

UMAX Astra 6400 ( Price: $129.99. Popular with techie magazines, this scanner has one-touch buttons for scanning to a printer, software, or eMail. It also features a FireWire card for PCs and lots of software (Adobe Photoshop LE, ScanSoft OmniPage LE, UMAX VistaScan, and a Scanner Solutions eBook).

Visioneer OneTouch 8900 USB ( Price: $129.99. This scanner has 1,200 x 4,800 dpi optical resolution and speed buttons for copying, faxing, eMailing, and scanning into Adobe Photoshop LE or ScanSoft PaperPort software. The device is only compatible with Windows.