For a long time now, scanners have been a great way to make copies of photos and documents. On the other hand, books have always presented a unique problem for scanners. They are not flat, and so they do not fit well, and always leave a black shadowy area where the binding is. The Plustek OpticBook 4600 offers a solution to that problem. With its SEE (Shadow Elimination Element) Technology you can get a book scanned without the binding getting in the way.
- Specially designed edge and patented lamp with curved ends
- Hardware Resolution: 1200 dpi, Interpolated Resolution: 24000 dpi
- Color: 48-bit input, 24/48-bit output, Grayscale: 16-bit input, 8/16-bit output, B/W: 1-bit
- Avoid cutting books or damaging book bindings
- Scan or copy text very close to the book spine
- Powerful OCR instantly saves to MS Word and Excel
- Automatically rotates and saves page images in correct order
- Large, multifunction one-touch button
The special scanning edge is what makes this scanner unique. The edge allows one side of a book to lay flat on the scanner and the other side to go over the edge. Being able to do this means the binding will not get squished or be raised off the glass and create the black area.
The top of the scanner is very plain. There is the lid and a single button. The only thing the button does is start the scanner. What the scanning does depends on what you setup in the configuration page.
The only significant thing on the right side is the power switch.
The bottom is equally boring except for the lock. It is extremely important that you unlock the scanner.
The back of the scanner is a power plug and a USB port. The scanner comes with a power cord, and it is about 4 feet long. This is a bit too short for my liking. I prefer about 6 feet so that I have the ability to put the scanner where ever I want. I had to stretch the cord as far as it would go so it would reach my desk.
The lid of the scanner is removable. This is very useful for when you are scanning large books, like the one I used for my tests, or when you want to be able to swap the pages quickly. On the inside of the lid is a Reflective Document Mat. This is double sided with white on one side and black on the other. It is best used in conjunction with the Auto crop. In order to get the best results from the auto crop it is highly recommended that you use the black side of the Reflective Document Mat for light images, and books and the white side for dark images and multicolor photographs. This gives the scanner a lot more of a contrast in which to find the edges of whatever you are scanning. It is a little difficult to get it out and you have to tug at it a bit before it comes loose. Behind the Reflective Document Mat you will see another piece of plastic. This is the Image Enhancing Backing which I will talk about a little later.
The OpticBook’s biggest difference from other scanners is the design. With this design Plustek moved the glass right to the edge of the scanner. They also have a lamp which is able to scan right to the edge and give a good scan of the edge of a book. Previous to this, book scanners used to cost thousands of dollars and were large and hard to use. This new technology makes book scanning easy and produces good results.
Setting up the Plustek OpticBook 4600 is not that difficult. In fact, it is just like most other USB devices. First and foremost; you must unlock the scanner. The OpticBook has two states that the lock can be in, Locked and Auto. Auto will lock itself if it is on an uneven surface. If you fail to unlock the scanner it could be damaged when you try to scan something.
Instead of installing the drivers first, the OpticBook requires you to plugging in the scanner first. Then when Windows detects it and asks for drivers you need to insert the disk and tell Windows to look for drivers. The drivers will be detected and installed. On the disks are also several pieces of software that will assist you in getting good scans. They include NewSoft Presto! PageManager, NewSoft Presto! ImageFolio, I.R.I.S. Readiris Pro. Most of the software can be installed through the main install program which saves you time by not requiring you to install them one at a time. Each program provides a special function. PageManager provides OCR, PDF creation and conversion to Word or Excel. ImageFolio allows you to edit your photos. I.R.I.S. Readiris Pro is very similar to a PageManager because it provides functionality like OCR, document conversion to PDF, HTML, and WordXML.
As you can see from the following images the scanner does a fairly good job. I used a book with over 1000 pages for this test because I knew the book would be difficult for a normal scanner to scan. As you can clearly see, the OpticBook did a great job. However, I ran into a couple problems, the first was with the height of the scanner. Since it sits fairly low to the ground it does not give a lot of clearance for a book to hang over. For a soft bound book this would not be a problem, but for my hard bound book it was. So I had to position the scanner so that it was right on the edge of my desk, that way the book could hang over the edge of the scanner and the edge of the desk and lay perfectly flat. The second problem was with the right most edge of the scanner. When I placed a book up against the right of the scanner It would cut off quite a bit of the page. The solution to this was to keep my books on the left of the scanner.
Another problem that you could have is called “see through.” This is when part of the next page shows through. This can happen when your book has thin pages or there is light shining through the back of the page. If you run into this problem the OpticBook comes with Image Enhancing Backing, which you can put behind the pages you are scanning so that you do not get see through onto the next page. The backing is just a sheet of semi-hard black plastic.
You will have to do a little cropping if your books pages are not a full 8 1/2 x 11, or if you want to copy the pages to an image first you can use the scanners software to specify the area to scan. If you use the Image Enhancing Backing then it can serve a second purpose by blocking all the rest of the pages from a thick book and giving you a cleaner edge to crop to. If you do save the images, then you can use the PageManager software to easily convert them to a PDF for easy viewing and reading.
Now that we know that the scanner does a good job with books, which are mostly black and white, we want to know about color images. Because it supports up to 48-bit color depth and 1200 DPI resolution, you would expect it to produce great color scans. I scanned this color chart to see just how well it does. By just looking at the chart you really cannot tell that there is much difference in the original and the scan. But by using Photoshop’s color picker you can see a little variation in the colors, but most of them are really close. The only one that has a big difference is the blue. I tried this same scan on another scanner and it also seemed to have trouble getting the blue just right.
The scanner is also fast. From the time I press the scan button until an image appears in my program it takes about 6 seconds for 8 1/2 x 11 black and white page and 8 seconds for and 8 1/2 x 11 color page. This was at 300 DPI and as you increase the resolution the scan times will also increase. For example, the same scans at 1200 DPI took about 2 minutes 20 seconds for color and Black and White took 47 seconds from start to finish to scan. In addition to being fast it is also fairly quiet. It makes its loudest noise when the scanning head is going back to the starting place, and even that is not very loud. However, sometimes when I scanned at full size it would make a loud grinding sound when the scanning head reached the other side of the scanner.
Warranty and Support
The OpticBook 4600 comes with a one year limited warranty. I am always disappointed when companies offer very limited warranties, especially for expensive items. I am certainly an advocate of longer warranties and if possible lifetime warranties.
The scanner is really nice and it produces really great scans. If you are a student or librarian or anyone else that makes a lot of scans or copies of books, then this scanner could save you a lot of time and money. It is small enough to take with you to the library and big enough to copy all the books you need. The OpticBook 4600 is going to be the most expensive of the OpticBook lineup. I was told that the MSRP for the OpticBook 4600 is $899. I will let you judge for yourself, but I think it is a bit over priced. Before you go out and buy one you should compare it to the older OpticBook 3600, it sells for a lot less and it may have all the features you need. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|