Plustek MobileOffice AD450 review
Speedy, but wonky scans, a picky sheet feeder and poor software let the side down badly
Despite the promise of a paper-free world, bills and all kinds of important documents are still printed, sent by post and, God forbid, even faxed. That's why there's still a market for sheet-feed scanners such as the Plustek MobileOffice AD450.
Once you have it set up (a tortuous process), you can use it to digitise and archive all kinds of printed media, from bills to business cards. It sports an impressive list of features, with duplex scanning as standard, a fold-out 20-sheet document feeder, a slot at the rear for scanning credit cards, three user-definable shortcut buttons on the front-right edge and, usefully, the ability to run on USB power.
A padded bag in the box shows Plustek wants you to use the AD450 as a portable scanner, but we're not convinced it will stray far from a desk. It's bulky, measuring 289 x 98 x 75mm (WDH) and quite heavy at 1.3kg.
The AD450 isn't a high-resolution device. It's a document scanner and its maximum of 600ppi is good enough. It is, however, pretty quick. Top speed is quoted at 9ppm at 300ppi in greyscale and 6ppm in colour (this falls to 4ppm when powered over USB), which means in duplex mode you'll be able to process up to 18 sides per minute. That's impressive, and was pretty much spot on in our tests, scanning nine pages in duplex mode in 1min 2secs.
What isn't so good is the inflexibility of the sheet feeder. Although it handled thick media well, in our tests it repeatedly jammed on thinner media and fed two sheets at once, despite being rated for paper stock down to 50gsm. And almost every scan we made came through slightly skewed.
The supplied software is just as hit and miss. Some of it is terrible: the business card reader is so dated we wouldn't inflict it on our worst enemy. And the less said about the Presto! ImageFolio 4 document-management application, the better.
On the plus side, the button configurator and bundled Abbyy FineReader Sprint Plus software are useful. The former allows you to customise each of the device's three buttons, specifying everything from application destination to the resolution to scan in.
You can set the PDF button to automatically OCR your documents, for instance, turn them into searchable PDFs, and save them in a predefined folder. FineReader isn't the most advanced OCR application in the world, but it does give you more control over the recognition of complex documents and lets you convert to text, Word and even Excel spreadsheet file types.
Overall, though, we're disappointed with the Plustek AD450. Despite a good turn of speed and reasonable list of specifications, it just doesn't hang together, and the inconsistent feeder and poor software offering undermine it badly. If you're after a fast, compact sheet-feed scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 makes more sense.