Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (S8X1101BK) review

The Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (S8X1101BK) can scan a full page reasonably well, reasonably quickly, and without a computer.

Essentially identical to the Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (PanScn08) that I reviewed last year (and is still available on the Web at this writing), the Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (S8X1101BK) offers all the same strengths and weaknesses. In particular, it combines capable hardware with highly limited software, which means it’s a far better value if you already have the programs you need than if you have to go out and buy additional software.

At 1.4 by 10.4 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and 7.9 ounces, the S8X1101BK is on the large side for a wand scanner even though it’s just two or three-tenths-of-an-inch larger in each dimension than, for example, the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand PDS-ST415-VPS . However, it’s small enough to count as highly portable, and it works like any other wand scanner, letting you start at the top or side of a page, and scan down or across with a single sweep. Two sets of rollers on the bottom make it easy to control during the scan.

Like all wand scanners, the S8X1101BK scans to memory rather than a computer, which in this case means scanning to a microSD card. Sunglow includes a 2GB card with the scanner, so you don’t have to buy one separately, and it also includes a microSD adaptor so you can easily plug the card into your PC if it has a card reader. Alternatively, you can leave the card in the scanner, connect to your computer using the supplied USB cable, let the computer recognize the card as USB memory, and then copy the files to your hard drive.

Setup and Scanning
As with most wand scanners, set up for the S8X1101BK is almost trivial. Simply insert the microSD card and rechargeable battery, and then charge the battery, either by connecting to a computer by USB cable or by connecting the cable to the power block and plugging into a power outlet. You can also optionally install the only program the scanner comes with, NewSoft Presto! PageManager. PageManager is a somewhat limited document management program. However it includes optical character recognition (OCR) to let you convert scanned documents to editable text or searchable PDF files.

Once the battery is charged, scanning with the S8X1101BK is easy. In addition to a power button that also works as a Scan button, the scanner offers three additional buttons, with each one letting you choose between two settings: color mode or grayscale, 300 pixels per inch (ppi) or 600 ppi, and JPG or PDF file format. The default whenever you turn the scanner on is color, 300 ppi, and JPG. Simply change one or more settings if you want to, and then scan.

As is typical with wand scanners, I didn’t have any trouble getting good scans from the start at 300 ppi. At 600 ppi it’s easy to go too fast, but the scanner will warn you with a blinking error light, so you know to start over.

Scan Results
Given the software that comes with the scanner, the only two of our standard suite of scanner tests I could run were for OCR and document management. As with the Pandigital PanScn08, the S8X1101BK didn’t score well in either category, but the problems were mostly due to software issues.

The combination of scanner and PageManager did reasonably well for the very narrow task of recognizing text on a character-by-character basis, but PageManager did such a poor job with formatting that it would be misleading to say that it was at all accurate.

Similarly, the document management score suffered from PageManager’s limitations, rather than any problems with the scan itself. Note too that although PageManager can combine multiple pages into a single PDF file, it won’t do the same for text files. Each page goes to a separate file, leaving it to you to copy and paste the pages into a single file.

As a final test, even though the scanner doesn’t come with any photo editing software, I included some photos to get a sense of the photo scan quality. Overall, the scans qualified as good enough for casual photo scanning—for capturing photos in magazine articles, for example, or for sending as snapshot quality—but not for anything more demanding.

Given the limitations of the software it comes with, it’s hard to give the Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (S8X1101BK) anything more than a qualified recommendation. If it came with more capable software, like you get with the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand PDS-ST415-VPS or the Editors’ Choice VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST44-VP, it would be a lot more attractive. As it stands, though, the only way to get the most out of the hardware side of this package is if you already have the scan software you need, or are prepared to spend additional money to buy it.

More Scanner Reviews:

Specifications
Scanning Options Reflective
Automatic Document Feeder No
Maximum Scan Area Legal
Maximum Optical Resolution 600 pixels
Ethernet Interface No
Flatbed No

Verdict
The Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner (S8X1101BK) is a reasonably capable wand scanner, but to get the most out of it, you'll need better software than it comes with.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc