Plustek OpticBook 3800 review

Simon Handby
10 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

This scanner is a good idea for anyone needing to archive books or magazines, but its performance in our tests suggest it's not worth the premium price


The OpticBook 3800 is one of a range of Plustek scanners optimised for capturing printed and bound material such as books or magazines. It's an A4 flatbed device adapted to the task with a couple of hardware tweaks and specialised software. Plustek describes the 3800 as affordable, but at £165 it's considerably more expensive than a typical entry-level flatbed. Its maximum resolution of 1,200dpi is lower, too, although it's more than enough for the intended role.

Plustek OpticBook 3800 in use

Most modern scanners use contact image sensor (CIS) devices to capture an image, but the OpticBook sticks with older charge-coupled device (CCD) technology, with light supplied by a cold cathode lamp. This adds a significant warm up time after any period of inactivity, but it should otherwise help capture high quality images. The head moves with a lovely whir; each scan ending with a flourish that sounds like R2D2 muttering to himself.

The OpticBook 3800 is taller than CIS-based scanners, and its glass scan surface extends as close to the scanner's front edge as the thickness of the shell will allow – there's no significant plastic lip at the front. You place books or magazines on the scanner with their spine embracing this unusually narrow front margin and the rest of the book hanging down the front of the scanner, allowing it to capture the page as close as possible to the inner margin. Most books are wider than the scanner is high, however, so you may need to move the scanner to the front of a desk so the page you're scanning can lie flat. In use, we weren't always able to scan right up to the margin, so some text was cut off.

One disadvantage of the lack of lip at the front is that it's slightly harder to line up documents and photographs than on a normal flatbed. Plustek's TWAIN interface is comprehensive and easy to use, although it wouldn't remember the preview image between sessions even when this option was checked. Outright image quality was acceptable, with a reasonably sharp focus, but documents tended to be slightly underexposed, with white paper gaining a slight blue tint – not ideal in a book scanner.

Scan interface

Plustek provides its own software that aims to make the process of scanning books as easy as possible. Pressing one of the scanner's three dedicated start buttons (one each for colour, greyscale and black and white jobs) starts Book Pavilion and triggers a preview scan, at which point you can select options such as the format of the captured document and where it will be stored.

The software produces PDF files with searchable text created through OCR, but it's a fiddly process. You have to transfer the scan from Book Pavilion to DI Capture - also Plustek software - and export it using a wizard. OCR is processed through ABBYY FineReader, but the results were inaccurate.

Overall the OpticBook 3800 is a promising idea, but it's expensive and it failed to deliver in our tests.



Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview9s
A4 document at 150dpi13s
A4 document at 300dpi15s
6x4in photo at 600dpi12s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi53s
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpiN/A
Single 35mm negative at max dpiN/A


Scanner technologyCCD
Max optical resolution1,200dpi
Max interpolated resolution24,000dpi
Output bit depth24-bit
Maximum document size216x297mm
Maximum transparency sizeN/A
Film formats acceptedNo
Function buttons4
Scan head lockManual
USB poweredno
Supported operating systemsWindows 2000/XP/Vista/7
Software includedNewSoft Presto! Image Folio 4.5 and PageManager 7.1, ABBYY FineReader 9


USB cable includedyes
Power consumption standby9W
Power consumption active20W

Buying Information


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