Portable scanners are pretty commonplace now and are a useful peripheral for those who need to access this sort of functionality on the move. Most are quite limited when it comes to flexibility and features, however, and in the AD450, Plustek attempts to negotiate some sort of middle ground.
Part of the MobileOffice series, the device is just about small enough to fit in a briefcase when folded up, and comes with its own soft carry case for extra protection. There’s quite a bit more to it than a conventional portable scanner in that it offers automatic duplex scanning, a 20-sheet automatic document feeder, can take paper weights up to 105g/m2, can scan business cards and plastic cards such as IDs and is capable of an optical resolution up to 600dpi.
The AD450 is quick to set up and offers a choice of USB or AC power, along with an additional USB cable for data. Once initial setup is complete you’re prompted to use a button configuration utility to customise each of three quick-access controls on the exterior: so-named PDF, BCR (business card reader) and SCAN.
These simply offer a fast way to scan contents to a specific format, and through the software it’s possible to select a file type and format, duplex setting, size, resolution, automatically adjust brightness and contrast levels and rotate an image. Configuring these settings is fairly straightforward and it’s a useful way to avoid making manual adjustments each time.
In our tests a single page A4 took around 10 seconds to run through a scan – with no additional overheads here for duplex scans – and a further 10 seconds for the resultant PDF to appear in its folder. It took about 30 percent longer for a colour photo to be scanned and opened in an associated application, and scanning an ID card took around eight seconds.
Running ten sheets through the ADF took about a minute and twenty seconds, though this seems reliant on the ability of a host computer to process the image data before the next page feeds through. Regardless, the process worked smoothly and aside from the fact that it sprays pages across a table due to the lack of an output tray, we were impressed by the efficient way in which it can help automate larger jobs.
The AD450 is also pretty resilient: we ran through a few rather old and dog-eared A4 pages and it managed to process these without any trouble, though obviously the results will suffer based on the state of the page. We also successfully scanned images printed on high-gloss photo-paper of 240g/m2, far thicker than the stated limited, so while we wouldn’t advocate doing this on a regular basis, the scanner at least appears capable of handling this sort of media on occasion.
We did have some issues getting a business card properly lined up and on many occasions the resultant scan was off-centre or omitting the top or bottom edge of the card. Considering typical uses for these sorts of benefits we can’t imagine quality would be paramount so this shouldn’t be a big issue, though a more solid mount around the plastic slot would have been a relatively cheap fix.
Quality from the MobileOffice AD450, at least in terms of its potential, is fairly good. After our initial document scans we found it necessary to fiddle with the contrast and brightness levels as text isn’t particularly crisp and can be rather heavily weighted, something that’s more of an issue with smaller font sizes. It does quite a good job of colour pages, however, and for the most part retained the vibrancy and image detail of photos and graphical documents very well, though if you’re expecting professional reproduction it’s still some way behind high-end alternatives.
Finally, Plustek supplies its standard fare of scanner software in the form of Abbyy Finereader 6.0, NewSoft Presto! PageManager, ImageFolio and BizCard Finder. Between them these applications help manage and convert scanned documents including OCR recognition, editing and retouching digital photos, and the ability to build a visual library of business cards for future reference. All of these packages are pretty capable and it’s safe to say that Plustek has covered just about all the bases in terms of supporting the AD450 from the box.