1) I've had mine for over a two years (I think, that sounds about right.) Things will happen, the problem with the net is one guy's bad experience becomes the reputation. I wouldn't worry about it too much... I've moved like 4 times with this thing, and it's still kicking butt.
2) I've never had any problems. I only use the actual scanning software and, occasionally, the OCR app. I find other programs work better than PageManager, etc. The company, as far as software goes, is definitely bush league as far as interface, patches, etc. And no Mac support... but I've ran it on a number of computers (including under emulation in a Mac) with no problems. But again, I only use those two programs.
3) Never had any problems. I've scanned a number of color books. Maybe I'm just lucky. OCR definitely gets tricky when pics are included, however.
As far as alternative... nope. None that I know of. I've looked into this a lot, and it seems that for its price the OpticBook still wins, hands down.
I really like it for what it does. Much rather use it than my nice canon, for instance.... not only for the binding issues, but the speed is just so much better.