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Old 02-28-2008, 04:11 AM   #1
Eldric
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Question Few questions for Opticbook 3600 users

Hey there. I recently started scanning a few books in my personal library and hit a snag with my flatbed scanner. It was the typical problem people have - the curve of the pages when you get close to the binding of the book. While I'm not scanning text, just the illustrations in the books, these are books that range from modern reprints to a few that're close to 100 years old - so damaging the books is out of the question for me. I've heard of the Opticbook 3600 and while it looks like it's physically the right scanner for me with the ability to lay the book flat on the scanning bed, I still have some questions before I buy one. Hopefully someone might be able to answer a few of these:

1) In at least one of the reviews I've read it was mentioned that the lamp in the unit ceased to function after a year (or 200 scans - reviewer mentioned that they used it sporadically). Has anybody had any issues with the hardware after longterm use?

2) It was mentioned repeatedly that some of the software that comes with the unit is "buggy" and that the patches from the manufacturer's website did little to fix these problems. Normally I wouldn't care seeing as I access my CanoScan LiDE20 scanner via Photoshop's import option, but when I was comparing the 3600 unit to the "Plus" model on Plustek's website I noticed that it was implied that the 3600 model would only function with the bundled "PageManager" software. They list the "Plus" model as "Custom your own image editing application", but I'm leery of spending an extra 50-100 bucks without knowing if this is in fact true or not. My question here is, are you restricted to JUST using PageManager with the basic 3600 model, or can you import directly into graphic editing programs like Photoshop with it? I know some companies try to sell you on their software, but in the end I'd rather stick with something I'm familiar with.

3) Finally, what're the results you're getting with the 3600 when it comes to illustrations? I've heard several folks say that it's great, but then I've heard folks talk about artifacts showing up as well as color loss and overall loss of quality over time. My main concern here is that I'm trying to scan these books with the idea of preserving the rich quality of these illustrations. There's no point in scanning a book filled with vibrant colored illustrations if in the end they end up looking flat, distorted and with muted colors that no amount of tweaking can correct.

If anybody has any information about the above mentioned questions or know of a cheap alternative to the Opticbook 3600 which would be better suited for what I have in mind, please feel free to reply.
Thanks in advance for your time and patience,
Eldric
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:33 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:17 AM   #3
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I just bought one and so far it works quite well. Tiger Direct had a great deal on the basic 3600, under $200 which is great for a decent scanner.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:09 AM   #4
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Yeah, that's an excellent price! I paid around 300 a few years ago.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:52 PM   #5
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I had mine (not the plus!) for about a year now and scanned five or six books each 200 to 300 pages. I had no problems with the software under Win2k or WinXP.
It is not very fast to start because it takes a while to warm up, however once it is running its really fast.
So far I have only used it with the supplied software, which takes some getting used to. However once you get the hang of it it works very well. The software stores each page in a different file, so there is no need to use any third party software with the scanner.

For books that are not printed very evenly I found it useful to crop out headers, footers and page numbers from the TIFF files with PhotoELF, before running the OCR tool. This way editing in MSWord later is much quicker. After some generic macros to eliminate fixed page turns etc I get less than one OCR mistake per page, which makes for good reading.

This is a very dedicated machine to scan books, this it does better than any other scanner (scanning speed is high, books almost line themselves up properly, you can select the area of text you want, books are flat, the big buttons allow you to start the next page very fast).

It is not as good to quickly scan an individual sheet as the warm-up time is long and it does not do very well with photos, the color separation is poor.

In my opinion the only thing missing is a document feeder option.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:52 AM   #6
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Thanks everybody for your input so far - looks like it's going to be a paycheck or two before I have enough free cash to put down on the scanner (best estimate so far is $300 including the extended 2 year warranty), so if anybody else has any input feel free to post.

Aru: the problems you're having with photos - what sort of results are you getting? Color bleeding? Pixellation within colors (purple comes out as dots of red and blue)? Sorry - just trying to understand what I might expect in terms of problems when it comes to scanning color illustrations. Also, have you tried to adjust the color balance in the capture software? I've heard more than one person refer to it as a Photoshop "clone", so I'm assuming you might have that sort of capability in the program.

On a side note (and this is for anybody here) - the TIFF format seems to be the preferred method of capture when it comes to images with this unit. Now, my understanding is that TIFFs provide the user with what can be considered the "raw" data from an image capture, therefore you have an extremely large image file that can later be saved as a JPG with minor image quality loss....or am I somehow missing the point here? With the Canon I got, I've been able to scan directly into Photoshop and then I save it for the web as a jpg, so this TIFF feature has never been an issue for me unless of course it's something that's working behind the scenes when I import into Photoshop. I'm sorry if it seems like I might be going around in circles with the logic here - combination of the lateness of the hour and long day at the job. I'm simply trying to understand the logic of the image capture format (TIFF) which seems to come up repeatedly in reviews for the 3600. If it's a quality issue where you're losing noticeable quality if you scan directly into JPG and thus wanna take the extra step to capture to TIFF, then convert/compress to JPG, or if it's more of a format issue where TIFFs are easier to convert/integrate into a pdf file, or if simply it's a matter of the scanner's default being TIFF files.

Please, if that last question wasn't clear at all (or just plain confusing) feel free to lemme know in a reply. Honestly, I won't take the least bit of offense - almost sorta expect it at 2am, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, thanks again folks for your input and if you have any other info feel free to post. The more I learn the better I know what to expect with this sort of unit - the good AND the bad.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:45 AM   #7
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TiF's just higher quality. And you want to be doing the OCR on the highest resolutiion scan you can get.

What I do is take all those TIF files then create a PDF with Adobe Acrobat (not just the reader software, the real program). After that I might OCR it with Adobe's internal one, or use the one that comes with the OpticBook....

But I keep the TIF files around until I'm completely finished with the process of converting - ideally, where you want to be is something that is pretty open like a Word or HTML type file.

When it's all done, then I delete them. BUt there's no point in converting them to jpeg's at all.
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:41 AM   #8
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TIFF is lossless, JPEG is lossy, it's simple as that. Also, JPEG is not suited for lineart and text, it's mostly intended for "real life" photos.
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