My earlier MagicWand scanner is in the motorhome in Orlando while I am spending the summer in Massachusetts. I also recently retrieved an old family Bible from the safe deposit box and decided I would like to scan the handwritten records it contains. At a price of $23.99, I decided I could afford a second scanner and will probably leave it here in Massachusetts when I return to Florida in the fall. The new scanner arrived this morning.
I discovered the new PanDigital Handheld Scanner is slightly different from my three-year-old MagicWand scanner. In all ways, it seems to be equal to or better than my older device. Like the older scanner, it produces excellent results. You can see a page that I scanned this morning from a family Bible at the end of this article.
Both units obviously were made by the same manufacturer. They are made in China and apparently are sold by several importers in North America and Europe under various names. I have seen ads for similar handheld scanners with the following brand names: ViewPoint, Pandigital, Ion, Cobra, DOCUScanner, and Wolverine. Judging from the pictures and the descriptions, the only difference seems to be the logo on the device. Some importers bundle it with batteries and/or memory cards while others do not.
The pictures on the NewEgg.com web site look identical to the older unit I already own. When the new scanner arrived this morning, however, I noticed that it has a two buttons on it that were not on my older device and it also has a different cover for the battery. However, it is the same length, width, and height as the previous scanner. I don't have the two side-by-side but it seems to be about the same weight.
The major differences were listed in the NewEgg.com ad: the refurbished scanner being sold today includes a rechargeable battery, a recharger, and a microSD memory card, none of which were included with the unit I purchased three years ago. While not listed in the ad, I was surprised to find a small carrying "pouch" in the box as well, also not included with my three-year-old unit. It is simply a fabric bag so it won't protect the scanner from hard knocks or from being dropped, but it will prevent it from being scratched if packed in a suitcase or briefcase.
The included memory card is a two-gigabyte microSD card. That's not a lot of storage by today's standards, but is enough to store several hundred scanned images. You can also copy them later to a desktop or laptop computer by using the (included) USB cable or by removing the memory card from the scanner and plugging it into the computer. Once copied, you can erase the images from the microSD card and use it again for new scans. If you do need more storage space, microSD cards are available at modest prices at any computer store and even at most drug stores near you. You can purchase an 8 gigabyte card for $7 or so and cards with as much as 32 gigabytes of storage space are available at higher prices. Your local store probably has a variety of cards to choose from. I am sure that NewEgg.com would also be glad to put an extra memory card or two in the box if you order them at the same time as the scanner. See http://goo.gl/alYp6 for the available cards.
Since the new scanner has a rechargeable battery, I had to plug it in and charge it for at least two hours before using it. That gave me time to read the users manual. Operation of the latest scanner appears to be identical to the earlier unit.
After a two-hour charge, I turned it on and started scanning. The new scanner seems to work well, in essentially the same manner as the earlier unit. I had no problem with "jitter" or anything similar. It is easy to draw the unit across the document being scanned. The user does need to have a somewhat steady hand but I did not experience any problems. Of course, it is best to keep the scanner moving at a steady rate on both sides. As an experiment, I did deliberately drag one side faster than the other on one occasion. The red ERROR light on the top of the scanner immediately went on, telling me I had a bad scan. I stopped, started a new scan with a steadier pull this time and everything worked properly. That was the only time the red error light went on; all my other attempts resulted in clear, error-free images.
The red ERROR light is a good thing as there is no built-in screen on the scanner. You cannot see what you have scanned. Without the error light, it would be possible to make a bad scan and not know about it until you returned home and looked at the results on your computer's screen. Other handheld scanners, such as the Flip-Pal (http://flip-pal.com/), have a tiny built-in screen that shows the image immediately after completing the scan. However, you won't find built-in "review" screens on scanners that sell for $23.99.
The scanner works well on books, pieces of paper, and photographs. I have always had a bit of trouble with "page curl" in bound books. If the page is tightly bound in a book, the words near the center binding of the book will not be scanned properly. I soon discovered there is a right way and a wrong way to scan books. Dragging the scanner from top to bottom, as shown in the picture at the top of this article, is the "wrong way." Instead, scan from the center outward, as shown in this picture:
Scanning from left-to-right or right-to-left eliminates most of the problems with page curl but does create a new problem: the new image will be scanned sideways when displayed on the screen. However, that is easily solved later by almost any photo editing or photo manipulation software. Almost all such programs will quickly rotate the image 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise. Macintosh users can easily do that with Preview, a program included with every Mac at no extra charge. Almost all other photo editors will do the same.
I also would not use the PanDigital Handheld Scanner on any document or photograph that is delicate. After all, dragging the scanner across the item being scanned will add just a bit more wear and tear. The handheld scanner only needs a slight bit of pressure to make a scan so it is fine for most things. However, I wouldn't use it on anything delicate. Of course, you always need to ask permission before scanning anything at a library, archive, museum, or even at a cousin's house.
In short, I am quite pleased with the $23.99 handheld scanner. The NewEgg.com sale at http://goo.gl/ZnwZm for these refurbished units expires on June 17 (Monday). If you would prefer to purchase a new, not refurbished, handheld scanner, you can find several similar scanners on Amazon at http://goo.gl/Dti0x and elsewhere at various prices.
Here is the first scan I made with the new Pandigital handheld scanner. It is from a family Bible printed in 1828. I believe the first few entries on this page were written prior to 1832. And, yes, those are my ancestors. Samuel Harmon listed at the top of the page is my great-great-great-great-grandfather. Click on the compressed image below to view the much larger, original scan: