As a portable scanner, the Plustek MobileOffice D428 has a lot going for it: an attractive design and a pretty accurate track record in reading business cards and documents. This device can even handle dark backgrounds and faint lettering. Just a few things hold the D428 back from getting a higher rating, namely a few user interface quirks that occasionally make scanning more difficult than it should be.
In the world of portable scanners, the D428 is like a 14-inch laptop. It's compact enough to throw in a bag when you need to, but not quite light enough to take anywhere. It weighs 2.1 pounds and measures 3.7 x 11.9 x 2.4 inches; that's both lighter and smaller than the Visioneer Strobe 500 (2.2 pounds, 11.7 x 2.8 x 3.3 inches). Particularly when compared to the Strobe 500, which has a dated design, the D428's black-and-silver styling looks more contemporary.
While some might find the Planon DocuPen X05's 2.0-ounce pen shape sexier--and easier on the shoulders--the D428 is still small when you consider what it does. Whereas the DocuPen X05 is a scanner that you glide over documents, the D428 has a feeder.
The D428's layout of buttons is pretty minimal. The small LCD shows how many pages will be scanned, a small button below it begins scanning, and two function keys allow the user to adjust the number of pages. This is a useful feature if you're scanning a multi-page document, but if you're scanning unrelated documents it might be tedious to count them first. Annoyingly, to use the D428 you have to plug it into both an outlet (using the bundled AC adapter) and a USB port. Although the scanner is light enough to carry around, having to connect it to two cables makes it less traveler-friendly.
Setup and Ease of Use
Installing the D428 using an on-screen wizard was easy enough, although we laughed occasionally at some of the poorly translated instructions ("without any misgiving at your scanner functioning"). Plustek supports Windows 7, Vista, XP, and Windows 2000.
Performance and Features
The D428 scans in black-and-white and color at a maximum resolution of 600 dpi. Although it has an adjustable opening for differently sized paper (not unlike a printer), the opening isn't wide enough to cradle multiple pieces of paper at once, so you have to insert them one by one. Feeding multiple pages took practice; at first, they got stuck and were hard to load straight. Similarly, while receipts never got stuck, we had some trouble getting them to scan straight.
When it came to scanning business cards, the D428 recognized plenty of different styles, even ones with black or colored backgrounds and pale or colorful lettering. As for more traditional cards with white backgrounds, the device read those easily, too.
Conveniently, the D428 automatically crops and rotates images and deletes blank pages, although the scanner didn't always get the full image (say, a business card) in the frame. The markings on the pop-out door of the Visioneer Strobe 500 make loading documents more intuitive.
The D428 is generally faster than other mobile scanners. For instance, it took 13.8 seconds to scan a two-page fine-print black-and-white document, whereas the Strobe 500 took 17 seconds. And while it took the D428 4.3 seconds to scan a receipt, it took the Strobe 500 14.1 seconds. The two devices were evenly matched when it came to scanning a single business card: 6.0 seconds. However, the Strobe 500's ability to scan both sides of a business card in 8.0 seconds was impressive.
The D428 comes with one-year warranty, including Monday through Friday phone support (not toll free) between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. (EST).
Compared to the Visioneer Strobe 500 ($399 with docking station), the Plustek MobileOffice D428 ($349) is less expensive, and more attractively designed. It also offers some smart functionality, such as the ability to automatically crop and rotate images and delete blank pages. In some ways, we put more trust in the heavier, costlier Strobe 500: it's decently speedy, also lets you scan two sides of a document at once, and easier to use. If you're looking for something lighter and more affordable, however, the D428 is a good option.