Plustek’s PL806 ADF scanner is part of the Smart Office series but is competitively priced enough to appeal to the home user as well.
This dedicated document and photo scanner includes a 50-sheet ADF (automatic document feed) tray that allows it to beaver away without constant supervision. You’ll find dedicated controls to scan to an image application or direct to file, and it offers OCR capabilities and a copier function to port scans straight to your printer.
The most impressive feature on offer by far, though, is the speed. The PL806 is blisteringly fast, and we saw results in between five and ten seconds depending on the size and complexity of the image. Scan times were pretty consistent regardless of the scanning profile and although OCR takes a little longer, you’re only looking at around 15 to 20 seconds here from start to finish.
No problems so far then, although it’s clear from both the design of the device and the scan quality that this machine is more orientated towards processing documents than photos. Although the ADF tray is adjustable to handle anything up to A4-sized photographs, there is no film feed tray, and while scan times won’t suffer, we weren’t as impressed with the results here as we had hoped.
Images were sharp enough but colours were a little muted and faint grey ghosting over the image meant that some of the vibrancy of more dynamic pictures was lost in translation. It’s still fairly capable in this area, but photographers may not consider the performance to be quite up to scratch.
In terms of office use, which is admittedly the PL806′s primary purpose, we don’t have any complaints. Text-based documents and line drawings were pretty much perfect, and if you’re looking to use the scanner’s OCR capabilities you’ll have no problems with printed text. If you’re transforming handwritten documents to file you’ll encounter typical problems depending on the clarity of the writing, but this is an inherent issue so we can’t complain too much here.
You’re provided with a range of software to control every aspect of the scanning process, allowing you to set up scan profiles for different situations, manage multiple scans through the ADF interface and correct and enhance photos and images.
The PL806 really is best suited to an office environment, though. While it’s a decent enough all-rounder, its strengths, including high speeds and efficient document management, mean that those looking for precise results with colourful images might need to spend some time working to improve them.
In its preferred environment it is impressive. Some might think that £150 is a lot to pay, considering you can buy flatbed scanners for about £30 now, but if you’re working with high volumes you’ll need something with these sorts of capabilities and in this light the PL806 is an efficient device.
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