I hate carrying paper and I’d much prefer to scan and email documents rather than fax them. So, when I heard about Plustek’s new OpticSlim M12 Plus scanner, I was pumped. I own a flatbed scanner but placing one page at a time is such a pain that I often end up faxing documents to my fax service because they arrive via email as a pdf file.  This kind of product is exactly what I need to put an end to that irony, make it easier to file important documents electronically and scan documents on the road.


A different approach

Unlike handheld wand scanners that require much more patience than I have to get a good scan, the USB-powered M12 uses a motor to draw the page through the scanner producing a good quality scan. It includes a wall mount for those who want to fasten it to something and, at 5 x 4 x 28 cm, you really can slip it into your briefcase.

Unfortunately, the Plustek OpticSlim M12 Plus also serves as a perfect example of how good hardware can be undermined by poor software. To be fair, much of the software bundled with it worked just fine and the actual driver that scans a single page also worked well.  But the Plustek software that should have tied these all together into a solid product was disappointing.

PDF processing issues

My goal, like other business users, is to quickly scan to .pdf. Sure, photos are nice and OCR can be useful but what I really want is a pdf that I can view on my screen and print if I need a hard copy at some point in the future?

Plustek’s software does create pdf files — but poorly.  For example, when scanning multiple pages of the same document, the application literally disappears, then the window from the driver appears while scanning the page, then it disappears and the ‘scan’ application reappears. Even on my dual core 2 GHz notebook with 4 GB RAM, there were often delays between one dialog disappearing and the other appearing which caused me to wonder if the application had crashed. There was no page count while scanning. The application sometimes waited until I inserted the next page but, sometimes, a dialog appeared to ask if I wanted to continue scanning, forcing me to click on a button to continue instead of just inserting the next sheet of paper.

Torture test

One test I ran was simply sitting down with my notebook, the scanner and a 30-page document. I should have been able to press one of the buttons on the scanner, feed in the pages and watch a counter or some other acknowledgement of progress. I shouldn’t have to touch my computer to click on anything until after inserting the last page. I tried twice but never made it past about 15 pages without the application deciding, for some reason or another, that I was finished.

I tried scanning a document directly from Adobe Acrobat and saw the same small dialog box as each page was scanned.  Unfortunately, since Acrobat uses a generic interface to the scanner, it has no way of knowing that it was a sheet scanner and I had to click to scan each subsequent page. This confirmed my suspicion that the print driver itself is just fine and the problems lies with the scan application provided by Plustek.  It simply doesn’t work well and fails to take advantage of the hardware’s capabilities.


I found the product frustrating because I could see that the hardware people at Plustek have put a lot of effort into it. If I were in their shoes, I’d be livid and I’d have words for the software development and product management teams that most publications wouldn’t print.

The great news is that a good software developer could take this product from mediocre to one that I’d be willing to purchase. I hope Plustek hires one soon.

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