Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by Greg0
Plustek OpticBook 3800: Book Scanning For Everyone
Book scanning might seem like an incredibly unusual task- but how many times have you wished for an electronic copy of a manual or wished you had the recipe close at hand? Sure, you could take a cameraphone pictures of documents for your run to the store- or you could easily scan and save articles, and quickly create a copy of your yet-unpublished lifelong fiction project. Most scanners can’t handle books very easily, whether it’s the family genealogy or the out-of-print ancient relic you found in that dusty bookstore.
The Plustek OpticBook 3800 eats books- chews them up, and spits searchable text out. It’s not a great multi-purpose scanner, and it can be a bit slow, with software that isn’t very friendly and a fairly large footprint. But it is the best book scanner that we’ve seen or tested, and a powerful tool in the right hands- and at a reasonable price. Scanners come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and we recommend a couple of others if you’re looking to, say, scan receipts on the go, or scan photos. The HoverCam is an interesting option as well if you need to save some space and handle odd-sized or large items.
But books have there own special requirements- you need a flatbed instead of an ADF, or automatic document feeder. This way, you don’t need to rip (or cut) pages out of your tomes. Further, unlike most flatbeds, this one has the glass scanning surface that runs all the way to the edge, which means you can lay a book down and have the rest of it hanging off while you get a crisp image of everything up to the spine. Large, easy to use buttons are much simpler than most scanners, and great for a production process where you’re scanning dozens or hundreds of pages one after the other. And in our tests, we liked the design that helps eliminate shadows from the spines, and reduce distortion.
Book dealers and collectors, professors, librarians- anyone who loves books- can certainly appreciate the ability to save them electronically, while preserving the original copy as well. Though we weren’t thrilled by the clarity or vibrancy of the scans, and wouldn’t suggest the Plustek OpticBook for your average consumer, we liked that it did a solid job of doing one task, and handling it well. The software suite is pretty traditional: Abbyy FineReader 9.0; Newsoft Presto! PageManager and ImageFolio, a book-scanning program called Book Pavilion, and a TWAIN driver that can work from most Windows programs. It adds up to a solid book-scanning solution that won’t put your budget in trouble. The OpticBook 3800 is available now, online and in stores, for around $250.