Plustek's OpticBook 4600 book scanner vows to take on even the thickest books with its removable lid and a scanning area that extends to the edge of the scanner so that books can be scanned all the way to their bindings. The flatbed scanning area is 8.5 inches by 11.69 inches, which is A4/letter size. Unfortunately there isn't an automatic page-turner or feeder, so a lot depends on the user's patience to stand (or sit) with a book in order to scan it. Documents can be scanned onto a hard drive or USB drive, and into Microsoft Word, a PDF, among other formats. The USB 2.0 interface lets users plug the scanner directly into a PC or laptop, which means setup is easy.
Scans showed up without shadows, but color scans appeared slightly lighter than their originals. The scanning software lets users adjust colors, though. A two-sided antireflective mat can be used to give scans more contrast; the mat's white side should be used with dark images and multicolor photos, and the black side should be used with books and light images. Thin book pages may cause text to bleed through from subsequent pages onto the page being scanned. To prevent this, a thin black plastic sheet can be placed between the pages.
The OpticBook included optical character recognition software, Readiris Pro, which did a good job of correctly identifying letters. From a scanned page of 350 words (1,850 characters), there were only five typos after being scanned through the software. The scanner also comes with Presto ImageFolio and Presto PageManager software. ImageFolio processes photographs, graphics and drawings from scans, and PageManager lets users save and share scanned documents in various formats.
The scanner is lightweight - 8.5 pounds - and the cord is about 5 feet long, so it's great for desktop use, but a longer cord would allow much more flexibility. The scanner offers 1,200 dots per inch (dpi) optical and 24,000 dpi enhanced resolution. Scans at 1,200 dpi take about four seconds, and higher-resolution scans take a few additional seconds. All in all, the scan quality is good but the $799 price tag may be a deterrent, and using the device for single-page scans may make users really miss having a document feeder.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Interface: USB 2.0
Technology: Color charge-coupled device image sensor
Scanning modes: Color: 48-bit input, 24/48-bit output; gray scale: 16-bit input, 8/16-bit output; black and white: 1-bit
Maximum flatbed scanning area: 8.5 x 11.69 inches, A4/letter size
Dimensions (D x W x H): 17.6 x 11 x 3.7 inches
Lamp: Cold cathode
Miriam Jones is chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. She joined e.Republic in 2000 as an editor of Converge magazine.