Plustek SmartOffice PS456U review

It lacks network support, but this speedy scanner is a department-class piece of kit at a workgroup price

  • Flawless paper handling; Incredible speed;
  • No direct cloud connections; No network support;

At first glance, Plustek's little SmartOffice PS456U looks unremarkable. But underneath its glossy, white plastic exterior lurks an astonishingly fast 80ppm scan engine. Thanks to its duplex capability, that equates to a file-cabinet-busting 160ipm. The big 100-sheet ADF and 8,000-page daily duty cycle confirm this is a scanner that's up for heavy-duty digitising.

The key thing that's missing is network support. Still, the PS456U is a cinch to install on a dedicated host PC; we connected its USB 2 port to our Windows 10 workstation and had all the software apps loaded in less than ten minutes.

It's an impressive software bundle. Along with TWAIN, ISIS and WIA drivers, you get the slick DocAction scan-configuration tool, ABBYY FineReader 9 Sprint for OCR duties and NewSoft's Presto! PageManager 9 SE document-management utility.

The DocAction tool is extremely versatile, allowing you to assign up to nine different jobs to the scanner's Function button. Its sidebar lists all nine available job types, which include scans to local or network folders, searchable PDFs, FTP servers, a local MAPI-compliant email client, and direct to a printer.

Selecting one opens all its configuration options in the main pane, so you can easily select colour, mono or greyscale, opt for simplex or duplex scans, and choose an output file format for each one.

From the same screen, you can pick a resolution, adjust brightness or contrast, and activate features such as punch-hole and blank-page removal, auto-crop, deskew and individual rotation settings for each side of a page. We confirmed the effects of our selections as we went along by popping a page in the scanner, selecting the preview button and checking the resulting image.

DocAction lacks support for direct cloud connections, so we could only send scans to our local Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive sync folders. Plustek's ScanToCloud app is free, but we couldn't get it to work: although we could use it to send documents directly to our remote FTP server, it refused to log in to any of our cloud provider accounts.

In our tests, we actually beat the scanner's cited 80ppm top speed: the PS456U ripped through our sheaf of 50 bank statements in 37 seconds at both 200dpi and 300dpi resolutions for a tidy average of 81ppm.

Note that this was all in mono -- colour scans are slower, but still impressive. In our tests, the PS456U averaged a better-than-claimed 46ppm in colour at 200dpi and 30ppm at 300dpi.

Even at 600dpi, the PS456U is no slouch, with mono and colour scans averaging 24ppm and 5ppm respectively. Output quality at 200dpi is perfectly adequate for document archiving, and FineReader did an excellent job of correctly converting every word on our statements, even down to 6pt type.

We can't fault the document feeder's paper-handling skills. It dealt with our statements, flimsy courier waybills and till receipts without complaint. However, although it can scan smooth plastic ID cards, we don't recommend you try embossed credit cards, as these often caused jams.

The PageManager software offers useful document-management features, allowing us to neatly organise our scan folders, inspect selected documents and send them to other applications using drag and drop. It links up with Plustek's TWAIN driver, which pops up when a scan is requested, so it's easy to access too.

The lack of network and cloud capabilities may discourage some, but the SmartOffice PS456U's mighty scan speeds are persuasive. If you need a high-volume, heavy-duty desktop scanner at an affordable price then the SmartOffice PS456U is the one to choose.  

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 263

Verdict

The lack of network and cloud capabilities may discourage some, but the SmartOffice PS456U’s mighty scan speeds are persuasive. If you need a high-volume, heavy-duty desktop scanner at an affordable price then the SmartOffice PS456U is the one to choose.  

600dpi colour scanner 80ppm @ 300dpi mono 40ppm @ 200dpi colour Simplex/duplex 100-sheet ADF USB 2 External PSU 8,000 pages per day Plustek DocAction, ABBYY FineReader 9 Sprint and NewSoft Presto! PageManager 9 SE software TWAIN, ISIS and WIA drivers 319 x 231 x 228mm (WDH, closed) 2yr RTB warranty

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