The Plustek OpticBook 4600 is a 48-bit USB colour flatbed scanner that is easy to install and can digitise documents, books, and photos.

This £560 Plustek OpticBook 4600 scanner weighs roughly 3.9kg and comes bundled with scanning, document management, and optical character recognition (OCR) software. Quick-start buttons make performing common scanning tasks, such as creating searchable PDFs or editable text files, even faster.

The Plustek OpticBook 4600 does not come with an automatic document feeder, but that's not surprising considering that its primary claim to fame is its special design for receiving and scanning bound books without splitting their binding. The Plustek took a scant 9.3 seconds to scan a one-page colour document at 300dpi.

But because it lacks an ADF, the Plustek OpticBook 4600 can't automatically scan multipage documents, which reduces its versatility.

Initially we found that the Plustek OpticBook 4600's test images were often slightly darker than the original colour and monochrome pages, but after some minor tinkering with the default image settings we were able to improve the output image.

When it comes to scanning books, the Plustek OpticBook 4600 has a clear advantage over most flatbed models. The scanning glass on one side of the Plustek's length is right next to the scanner's edge, so you can place one side of an open book completely flat on the glass while the opposite side hangs down over the edge. This unusual design permits the Plustek to scan book pages without picking up any shadows or text distortion in the area of the book spine.

In testing the Plustek OpticBook 4600, we found that its optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities (using ReadIris Pro 10 Corporate) consistently produced outstanding results - about 99 percent accuracy - in both word processing and spreadsheet formats. But when used to create searchable PDFs, the Plustek achieved clean results only when we manually (and labouriously) used the scanning software to preview, crop, and rotate (when necessary) each page scan.

Although it has a single button for automating this process, the Plustek OpticBook 4600 was unable to produce consistently 100 percent clean pages. In each of my trial runs, the edges of some PDF pages contained unwanted dark streaks. Considering the Plustek's premium price, we expected better results when using the unit's automated scanning capability.


The Plustek OpticBook 4600 handled OCR work very nicely, but for PDFs and other image scans you may have to invest a fair amount of time and manual labour to obtain pristine copies. That drawback, coupled with the Plustek's high price, makes the OptiBook 4600 a somewhat dubious choice. Its value will be greatest for people who plan to use its book-scanning capabilities extensively.