Here’s a quick list of currently available scanner models that I recommend for people doing album art scanning.
I’m not covering scanning 12″ vinyl in this guide. For that, you need a large format scanner, which is a completely different price category of professional equipment – or use a camera and a glare-free lighting rig instead.
There are two basic kinds of scanners currently available, distinguished by the type of image sensor: CCD and CIS (Contact Image Sensor). The difference is that CCD sensors have a much larger depth of field. This is important in particular if you’re scanning digipak cases – with a CCD sensor, you can scan right through the tray without disassembling the case. It also improves the quality when scanning exterior of boxes or thick booklets that don’t lay completely flat. CIS sensors can only get a sharp image if the thing being scanned is perfectly flat against the glass surface.
The scanner must be able to do 600dpi scanning (non-interpolated). This is pretty much a given at this point, of course, since even the cheapest current model scanner can usually pull off 1200dpi or higher. But keep this in mind when looking for used or older model scanners.
The scanner must be a direct-connection USB device. Many network scanners and all-in-one devices apply compression and pre-filtering that often can’t be disabled; this reduces the effectiveness of later descreening steps. Scanners marketed as “Photo” scanners are usually good at preserving fine detail without compression artifacts.