Plustek’s OpticBook 4800 offers a specialist angle to the desktop scanner market. Though it’s effectively a fairly standard-sized flatbed, the difference is that the 4800 is optimised for scanning books. To do this, it features a 2mm book edge as well as a lid whose height is easily adjustable, enabling you to produce optimum results without dismantling the book or damaging the spine. In addition, it carries green credentials, both in terms of cutting down on the number of photocopies you produce and due to the energy-saving LED light source used.
Design and key features
The device is nicely designed, finished in matt black with a roughened exterior that’ll prevent it from collecting greasy fingerprints. There’s a direct USB 2.0 connection for data and four controls on the exterior to use as an alternative to the supplied software. These are labelled Colour, Grey and B/W (black and white) – and they pretty much do what it says on the tin, though it is possible to adjust the default resolution, brightness and associated settings through the supplied software to customise one-touch scanning.
Other than that, the supplied software is fairly straightforward, though it offers easy access to core commands such as scanning directly to PDF, image file, email, direct to printer or an imaging application. Further functions offer control over aspects such as rotation, auto-crop and incremental filename prefixes, helping you scan batches of pages.
Bundled with the device is NewSoft Presto! ImageFolio 4.5, which offers image editing and adjustment, PageManager 7.10 to manage documents and OCR recognition, Book Pavilion, which helps convert books into searchable formats such as PDF. FineReader 9.0 offers further conversion options, including Microsoft Office document formats.
Performance and price
Of course, scanning performance is paramount here – and thankfully we were quite impressed with the results. Book scans work well in terms of recreating a flat image/document when correctly aligned against the book edge, though scanning one page at a time will obviously take a lot longer.
We were impressed by the lack of artefacts present on white pages, though careful alignment and a bit of work with the brightness/contrast settings is required if you’re expecting results that don’t need at least a little cleaning up.
The auto-crop option also does a good job of trimming an image to a page view, provided the object is correctly aligned. The software works well in presenting an image preview within a few seconds, after which the results can be ‘transferred’ to the appropriate format or destination.
Full-colour images didn’t fare quite as well in terms of accurate reproduction. While sharp and effective in retaining detail, colours appeared rather muted, and subtleties in darker shades were sometimes lost.
Even at a realistic 300dpi resolution (the 4800 is capable of a maximum 1200dpi) images are crisp enough to tweak using photo editing software to correct these issues somewhat – though it’s fair to say that photographers expecting accurate reproductions will still need to invest a bit of time.
Plustek’s 4800 is clearly designed as a book scanner, and this is a job it does well. It copes as an all-rounder in that full-colour images and photos retain enough depth of clarity to correct issues such as colour-accuracy – and the sturdy, eco-friendly design is an added bonus.
However, there is a high price to pay for these benefits, and with a street price of around £600 the 4800 will be restricted to those who value speed and quality (particularly in terms of book and document scanning) above all else.
- Fast, clean results without compromising quality; decent software.
- Very expensive; full colour images still require work for accurate reproduction.
There’s plenty to like about the 4800, but the massive price tag will limit its appeal to those who really need to make use of its strengths. As a book and document scanner that offers clean results with a minimum of fuss, it succeeds. But as an all-rounder there are far cheaper options available - even if it will take a bit longer to clean up their results.