The Pandigital Personal Scanner (S8X1100) offers a somewhat self-contradictory design. On the one hand, it’s a portable manual-feed scanner that can scan without a computer. On the other hand, it doesn’t use batteries, and the best way to power it is to plug it into a USB port, which means you need a computer. (You can also plug it into a wall socket, but the three-foot cable it comes with is a little short for that.) The good news is that however confused the design may be, if you need a scanner to take with you on the go, the S8X1100 is still a reasonable choice.
Like other computer-free scanners, including the Editors’ Choice Visioneer Mobility and the Apparent Doxie One, the S8X1100 scans to memory, where it stores the files so you can copy them to your computer’s hard drive later. The scanner itself offers a 128MB internal memory, but you can also plug in an SD card to increase the memory to as much as 32GB.
One advantage the S8X1100 offers over most computer-free scanners is that if you’re plugged into a USB port for power, you can also easily check the scan quality anytime during a session. Your computer will see the memory in the scanner as a USB drive. All you have to do is go to the folder with the scans, using Windows Explorer or another program, and open the file to see the scan.
Basics and Setup
The S8X1100 is small enough to fit easily in your laptop bag, at 1.4 by 11.4 by 2 inches (HWD) and it weighs only about 13 ounces. There’s basically no physical setup needed. Just connect the scanner by the supplied USB cable to a USB port or to the supplied power block plugged into a power outlet.
Installing the software that comes with the scanner is only a little harder. It actually takes a touch more work than with most scanners, because you have to find each program on the disc and install it separately, instead of relying on an automatic installation program. If you explore the disc, you’ll find the document management program NewSoft Presto! PageManager 9, the photo editor Magix Photo Designer 7, and Magix Video Easy SE, which lets you convert scans into a video.
Installing each program is easy enough; you don’t actually have to install any software. The scanning is all done by the S8X1100 itself, with the scans sent to memory, not to programs. You can then copy the files to your hard drive to use them with any programs you like.
Scanning with the S8X1100 is as simple as setting it up. All scans are in color and are saved in JPG file format. The only setting you can change is for resolution, and the only button on the scanner is the power button, which you can also press repeatedly to cycle through the resolution settings.
Whenever you turn the scanner on, the resolution is 300 pixels per inch (ppi), which is all you should need for most purposes. If you want a higher resolution, however, you can choose 600 or 1200 ppi by pressing the one button. The power light changes color with each button press to indicate the resolution—green for 300, yellow for 600, and red for 1200.
Once you’re happy with the setting, simply feed pages, one at a time. Each will go into its own file. Timing for manual feed scanners isn’t very meaningful, since a lot of time is taken up with manually feeding the pages, but it’s worth mention that once you put the page in the scanner, it takes only about 6 or 7 seconds to scan a 4-by-6 photo at 300 ppi and only about 10 seconds to scan a letter-size page.
Although the S8X1100′s User Guide refers to the scanner on its cover as a photo scanner, Sunglow says that was a misstatement, and the S8X1100 is better considered a general-purpose personal scanner. You can certainly use it for photos, and Magix Photo Designer 7 is a useful photo editing tool if you do. However the scans in my tests are best described as snapshot quality, with an obvious color shift and loss of sharpness. In addition, the auto-cropping feature was a little flakey on my first few scans, and when I recalibrated the scanner it stopped working completely, which left me with having to manually crop a yellow background out of every scan.
I’d also add the warning that I wouldn’t put any originals I cared about though any sheet fed scanner, since rollers can leave marks on the original. Sunglow recognizes this issue, and suggests using a protective sleeve in its manual, but it doesn’t supply one with the scanner.
Because PageManager also comes with the scanner, I ran it through our optical character recognition (OCR) and document management tests. Unfortunately, PageManager does such a poor job with formatting that I couldn’t score its accuracy for OCR, and it loses still more points for not having a way to combine multiple pages into a single file when it turns them into editable text files. The program did a little better for document management, since it can combine individual pages into a single searchable PDF file.
If you need a scanner that’s both computer free and runs off batteries, you should be looking at the Visioneer Mobility and the Apparent Doxie One. If you simply need a portable scanner to carry along with your laptop, however, the Pandigital S8X1100 is a reasonable choice. As with other Pandigital scanners I’ve reviewed, however, the potential for the scanner itself for OCR and document management is limited by the software it comes with. If you already have better software, or are willing to buy some, you may consider it a much more attractive possibility.
More Scanner Reviews:
|Automatic Document Feeder||No|
|Maximum Scan Area||Letter|
|Maximum Optical Resolution||1200 pixels|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc