The newest scanner from Plustek, the OpticBook 3800, purports to scan easily without damage to books. I received one of the scanners for review and couldn’t wait to try it out. Flat-bed scanning of books or pages from books is one of the things I do a lot of, and having an easier way, with less manhandling of the original, is something I’m always wanting.
Unfortunately, the OpticBook 3800 is not that scanner. It does, however, have some worthwhile features, which I’ll cover in my review.
Upon unboxing the unit, I was surprised at how light it was. It is four inches thick, 10 and a half inches wide, and 17 and a half inches long, yet weighs considerably less than the laptop I attached it to. It connects via USB. I connected it to a Toshiba laptop with 4 gb of RAM running Windows 7. The unit did not self-install using Windows Update, and had to be installed using the software that accompanied it. Installed was the driver for the device, Abbyy FineReader 9.0 Sprint (for Optical Character Recognition), and Plustek Book Pavilion. It also included Presto Page Manager and DI Capture, neither of which I could figure out how to use.
The scanner can be used with any of these products, or with any other software that employs a TWAIN interface to the scanner. I had trouble getting Adobe Photoshop to recognize the scanner’s TWAIN interface, but was easily able to scan using the Plustek Book Pavilion software and a push of the button on the scanner. Scans are fast, and the result can be a PDF, TIF, or JPG.
Plustek claims that because of the height of the scanner, books can easily be laid one page on the glass, and the rest of the book laying against the side of the scanner, thereby eliminating the usual distortion of words near the spine of the book. I found this worked well with a larger book that opened more fully, but less well with a smaller book with a tighter bind. I still had to press the book nearly flat to get a good scan unless it was already rather loosely bound. However, the scan itself was very clean, and after a run through Abbyy FineReader Sprint, a PDF was created that could be read through Adobe Acrobat Reader’s on-board reader with considerable accuracy. The physical appearance of the scan is not as good as I had hoped, however. A change in resolution of the scan itself (from the default of 300 dpi to 600 dpi) did improve the overall look.
One frustration for me for this device is that it does not turn off when not in use. I had to physically turn the device off to have the scanner lamp shut off. This is surprising, since having that scanner lamp on can really decrease its useful life.
Priced around $300 (or less if you shop around), the Plustek OpticBook 3800 does offer a low-cost, effective solution for those that not only need to scan photographs and images, but text as well. I may consider it for my own home office, since it includes the OCR software with it (usually pricey all on its own). It would be great for digitizing some things I keep holding onto that really would be more useful if they weren’t stuffed into a box.