The Plustek SmartOffice PS286 Plus is modestly priced for a desktop document scanner, yet provides a decent turn of speed and a good feature set suitable for a small or home office. This compact scanner lets you select between nine different customisable scanning profiles from the front panel, as well as scan from a variety of programs.
The black and silver PS286 Plus is very compact for a desktop scanner, measuring 264mm wide and 127mm deep, and weighing 1.7kg. It's portable in a pinch, coming with a soft carrying bag. The scanner has a maximum resolution of 600 dpi, and is designed to scan up to 1,500 pages daily. It has a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) and supports duplex (two-sided) scanning. It scans business cards as well as plastic cards up to 1.2 mm thick. The paper path is straight-through; sheets fed into the ADF emerge in the output tray at the scanner's base.
Software bundled with the PS286 Plus includes NewSoft Presto! PageManager 7.1, Abbyy FineReader Sprint, Hotcard BizCard Finder 3.0, Plustek DI Capture, Plustek DocAction, and the Twain driver.
You can scan from the device's front panel using any of nine preset scanning profiles, which are configurable through the DocAction utility. The profiles include converting text documents into searchable PDFs; scanning images to PageManager; scanning and saving images to a file (the default is JPEG); scanning images of text documents to editable text for OCR; scanning business cards to a card-reading program; scanning directly to print; scanning to email; scanning to the DI Capture utility; and finally, scanning to an FTP server.
You can toggle between profiles using up and down arrow buttons to the right of the Scan button – the profile number is shown on a one character LED display. Once you choose a profile, you just touch the Scan button to initiate the scan. Although the display is as basic as you can get, you can write descriptions of the scan profiles associated with each number on a sticker on the scanner's front provided for that purpose. (If you frequently tweak scan profiles or change them wholesale, you'll want to write the profile descriptions in pencil).
You can also initiate scans directly from nearly any program that has a scan command using the included Twain driver. You can scan from PageManager, which lets you open scanned or saved documents in a variety of programs.
The PS286 Plus scanned a 25 page test document in simplex mode to PDF image format in greyscale at 23 pages per minute (ppm), very close to its 25-ppm rated speed. Its rated speed for duplex (two-sided) scanning is the same, 25 ppm or 50 images per minute (ipm), where each side of a page counts as one image – though it was a bit slower than that in our testing, hitting 37.2 ipm.
Scanning a 25 page simplex document to searchable PDF format, the PS286 Plus averaged 1 minute and 55 seconds including processing time, or 13 ppm. A duplex 25 page document took 2 minute and 53 seconds to scan to the same format – a 17.4 ipm pace.
These are respectable results and in line with the scanner's rated speed. Still, as a point of comparison, the Canon ImageFormula DR-C125, also rated at 25 ppm, scanned to image PDF format at 25.4 ppm in our testing – yet lost no time in scanning to a searchable PDF, maintaining a speed of 25 ppm and 50 ipm for simplex and duplex scanning, respectively.
In OCR testing using FineReader, the PS286 Plus did very well, with perfect reading of both Times New Roman and Arial text down to 6 points. It made a fair job of business card scanning and reading using Bizcard Finder; about a third of the cards were error free, with the rest having two or more errors.
As a modestly-priced document scanner, the Plustek SmartOffice PS286 Plus can get the job done for small or home offices needing to scan up to about 1,500 pages per day. It's not as fast as some scanners, such as the Canon imageFormula DR-C125, but it provides duplex scanning, a 50-sheet ADF, good OCR performance, and a variety of scanning methods and destinations. Small businesses seeking a capable yet cost-effective scanning solution would do well to consider it.
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