M12 scanner
The M12 is small, lightweight and very, very portable.
By Columnist
updated 4/18/2005 12:59:07 PM ET 2005-04-18T16:59:07

Sometimes I need to use a scanner. That’s usually when I’m not near one. I may be given a press release or picture of something I plan to write about and unless I’m home or in the office, I'm stuck. That’s why I was so interested in Plustek’s OpticSlim M12 portable scanner when I first heard about it.

In the picture I saw the scanner looked like something I could carry with me on assignment.  It actually reminded me of some of the laptop batteries I’ve dealt with in my life — although I was hoping it wasn’t as heavy.  When I got to see the M12 in person I was pleasantly pleased. It is barely 10.8 by 1.9 by 1.3 inches and weighs in at 11.6 ounces.

I was amazed by the size and what Plustek claimed the scanner can do.  The M12 is a full 600 dpi, color scanner.  The specifications say the Advanced Color CIS (color image sensor) is capable of 48-bit input color, 16-bit input/8-16 bit grayscale output as well as 1-bit black-and-white. 

It’s a single pass device which can handle up to 3 pages per minute.  Maximum size paper it will handle is European A4 (8.5 by 11.7 inches) and standard 8.5 by 11 inch U.S. letter size sheets.

The OpticSlim M12 doesn’t come with an AC cord. It gets its power through the USB 2.0 connection with your PC. It does come with a slew of other things, including a gray flannel carrying pouch, a base stand to save space on your desk and even a wall mounting kit to keep the M12 completely off your desk. 

There’s also a slew of software that comes on the setup/application CD including NewSoft’s Presto! PageManager (for photo/image management), Presto! Image Folio (image processing/editing), Presto! Mr. Photo (photo calendars, greeting cards), Bridgewell’s Page abc (Web design) plus ABBYY’s FineReader 4.0 Sprint OCR (for editing scanned text).

The user’s manual is on the CD, too.  That’s a good thing because the multi-language quick start and controls guides left me searching for instructions on how to get this small scanner working.

You need to put the CD in your computer’s drive before connecting the M12 to the PC.  Windows XP could not install the device without the drivers on the PC.  Once the hardware is installed make sure you also install all the software.  Then restart your computer.

Never scan your document this way - it goes text/picture side down.
The scanner will then ask for your help to calibrate it.  You can use a sheet of white paper or the recommended black and white calibration sheet provided in the box.  Plustek also gives you a special sheet to clean the inside of the scanner when needed.  Before trying it out I checked all the settings and made sure the M12 could do 600 dpi and standard letter-sized scans.

Next step is to put your document in text side facing down — wait for the scanner to grab the paper — then press the scan button.  A dialog box will tell you the scanner is doing its thing.  When completed Presto! PageManager software automatically opens so you can see what you’ve scanned. From there, you can press the OCR icon and convert your scan from photo to edit-ready text.

In my tests the OpticSlim M12 worked flawlessly. I tried to scan in 200, 300 and 600 dpi mode.  If you’re in a hurry 200 dpi is for you. If you want the best quality scans, stick with 600 dpi.  Colors and text were sharp and clear. I was also pleased with the OCR software. Few mistakes were made in the conversion process and those were easily remedied.

The M12 sports a list price of $149.99, but I’ve seen it on sale online for up to $30 less.  For me, the M12 fits the bill. It’s small, lightweight, sleek and it does what it’s supposed to.  I intend to carry it with me when I have to go portable and hit the road.

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