Light-weight scanner ideal for mobile professionals

Mobile workers who need to scan documents on the go will find the Plustek OpticSlim M12 Plus scanner a relatively easy-to-use tool.

Really light – it weighs less than a pound – the device is ideal for frequent travelers or telecommuters.

Many companies are seeking to outfit staff with smaller, portable devices that can be carried to and from the office or from home. The need for such appliances has grown as a result of the sharp increase in the number of telecommuters as well as cost-cutting trends sparked by the financial downturn.

Portability and simplicity are the most noticeable features of the M12 Plus scanner.  

Despite its small-size, this scanner would be a great accompaniment for notebook and netbook users — provided one is aware of its limitations.

This isn’t a device for scanning images in high-quality. But for those who need to very quickly save soft copies of documents to a PC, the M12 Plus scanner could be a very useful tool.

Given its small size and light weight, it could come in handy for those with smaller office spaces or professionals who don’t want a bulky page-sized scanner on display along with a printer, computer or fax machine.

I had the M12 Plus on my desk for about a week and it took up very little room.

One of this scanner’s most useful features is the PDF-maker — that can turn any scanned file into a PDF document. Cheaper than Adobe Acrobat’s file converter, the PDF-maker is a useful tool for professionals who may want to scan and e-mail non-alterable contracts or receipts to their central office while on the go. 

The scanner measures 47 x 274 by 33.8 mm and fits neatly in most laptop bags or brief cases. M12 also features grey protective sleeve to ensure it does not get damaged in your bag.

The scanner is narrower than a standard-sized three-hole punch and has a sleek design, with a silver and navy blue casing.  It sports two buttons – for scanning or custom scanning.

It even comes with a navy blue plastic stand to hold it upright when it’s not being used, and includes a secret pocket to store the USB cord — as well as a wall mounting kit to keep the scanner off your desk and out of the way. Surprisingly, the scanner can still function when mounted on the wall.

The abscence of wires is also a bonus as the scanner connects to a PC with a USB cord – for both power and communication with the computer.

Users need to hand-feed documents into the single-pass scanner, but the the device is fast – scanning at an average of 30 seconds per page, a bit slower than the advertised three pages per minute.

I also found the feeder thick enough to also accept heavier documents such as a few stapled pages or a greeting card.   

The maximum sized sheet the scanner allows is 8.5 x 14 inches. The device also scans A4 legal size documents, photographs or business cards.

Installation is straightforward and the directions provided easy to follow. You simply plug one end of the USB cord into the computer and the other into the scanner.

Included in the box is a calibration page that needs to be fed through the scanner before you can start scanning, but this is a quick process. The scanne comes with sensor cleaning paper for upkeep.

Also included is a bunch of software apps that help you edit and store scanned documents, such as NewSoft Presto! ImageFolio 4.5 for image editing, NewSoft PageManager 7.0 to save and convert files, ABBYY FineReader for OCR files and HotCard BizFinder for storing and organizing business cards.  

But as mentioned, the best feature – which is only included on the OpticSlim M12 “Plus”- is the file converter.

The business card organizer is also useful for frequent travelers who collect business cards each day and need an efficient way to store them. The device scans business cards easily – I fed many different-sized cards through and the device had no problem capturing even the smallest print.

The organizer allows you to search through your inventory at any time and easily draw up numbers, which is a great way to portably carry your address book with you.

I can see this function saving a lot of time and improving my own organization. The scanner has two buttons on its shell: “custom” and “scan.” Custom converts scanned images into a PDF or text-editable RTF or txt file.

With the “scan” button, users can choose to save to file, scan to e-mail, scan to copy or scan to an application. The software automatically synchs up with Microsoft Outlook and sends documents via e-mail very quickly, even on the initial scan.

A scanner icon is placed in your tool bar and before each scan – you can select how you would like to scan the document in the “digiscan window.” Appropriate software will open automatically when you push the custom or scan button and feed the image through.

The scan button is especially designed for images and saving scanning results as image files. The images scan at a resolution of 600 dots-per-inch (dpi) which is good for images, but not great.

If you need a scanner for graphic design or publishing purposes you may want to invest in something better – but all the images I scanned looked as clear as the originals, and are suitable for personal use or posting online.

I also liked the fact that you can scan a number of pages at once but opt to save each document as one file or multiple files – this is useful if you want to organize a lot of notes at once and need documents saved in different locations.

Overall, I thought the scanner was very durable and high quality, considering its size and weight.

I think this is a great alternative to bulkier products on the market. It is a bit pricy (about $150) for companies looking to cut back this year, but the telecommuting capabilities could mesh well with an organization’s overall economic-saving strategy.  

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