Pandigital Portable Wi-Fi Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (S8X1103) review

The Pandigital Portable Wi-Fi Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (S8X1103) offers every key feature you might want in a wand scanner.

The Pandigital Portable Wi-Fi Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (S8X1103) offers more than other wand scanners by the simple trick of offering everything. Some wand scanners include a color LCD, so you can check your scans on the spot while you can still rescan if you need to. Others offer Wi-Fi, so you can view your scans at a larger size using a smartphone or tablet. Still others come with a dock that lets you turn the wand scanner into a PC-free manual-feed scanner. The S8X1103 may well be the only wand scanner at this writing that checks the box for all of the above.

Because the dock is the single most expensive extra in the batch, it’s most appropriate when you’re looking at prices to compare the S8X1103 with other wand scanners with docks, like the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand with AutoFeed Dock PDS-ST450-VP . When you’re looking at the other features, however, you need to include models like the Editors’ Choice VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST44-VP, which doesn’t include a dock, but offers Wi-Fi.

One strong point that both of the VuPoint Solutions scanners have in common is that they come with highly capable software. The Pandigital scanner, in contrast, comes with software that you need to replace to take best advantage of the scanner hardware. As with other Pandigital scanners I’ve reviewed, that makes the S8X1103 most attractive to people who already have all the scanning-related programs they need. In this case, however, the hardware side of the package offers enough that you may well decide it’s worth the extra cost of buying the additional programs.

Setup and Basics
Setting up the S8X1103 is absolutely standard. The scanner is a little bigger than some of its competition, but smaller than standard portable scanners, at 1.3 by 10.2 by 1.6 inches (HWD) and nine ounces without the dock. With the dock, it’s 2.3 by 12.4 by 2.7 inches (HWD) and one pound, seven ounces. More important, mounting it in the dock or taking it out is quick and easy, which isn’t true for all combinations of wand scanners and docks.

As with any wand scanner, you don’t need a computer to scan. Whether you use the S8X1103 as a wand scanner or as a manual-feed scanner with the dock, it saves the scan to either the 128MB internal memory or to a microSD card, if you have one. The scanner doesn’t come with a card, but it supports cards with up to 32GB of storage.

Setup consists of inserting the rechargeable battery and either connecting the supplied USB cable to a computer to charge it or putting the scanner in the dock and connecting the power block. While you’re waiting for the battery to charge, you can optionally install the supplied software, including NewSoft Presto! PageManager for document management, Magix Photo Designer 7 for photo editing, and Magix Video Easy SE, which will let you convert scans into a video.

Scanning
Scanning with the S8X1103 is easy enough, but making sure it’s set right is harder than it should be. The menu structure is well designed, so it’s easy find settings, but it doesn’t give you feedback to confirm the changes you make. You can set the file format to JPG or PDF, for example, but when I gave the command to change to PDF, and then went back to the settings screen, the setting still showed as JPG. I then scanned a page, which scanned to PDF format. Only after I scanned did the setting show as PDF in the menus.

Aside from the lack of feedback, the menus are straightforward. In addition to changing the file format, you can also change the color mode, choosing color or black and white, and change resolution. The default 300 pixels per inch (ppi) is a high enough resolution for most purposes, but you can also choose 600 ppi for either wand or manual-feed scanning, and 1,200 ppi for wand scanning only.

Whether you’re using the scanner by itself or with the dock, you can view your scans on the 1.8-inch color LCD to get a sense of the scan quality, or you can connect by Wi-Fi to your smartphone or tablet and use a browser to view the scan at larger size.

The ability to view scans on the LCD is particularly welcome, because it’s impractical to check quality after each scan with the Wi-Fi connection. The problem is that you can’t scan with the connection active, and it takes well over 40 seconds to connect each time. The two options work together nicely, however. If you’re scanning a batch of pages, you can do a quick check on the LCD immediately after each scan to spot any major issues, and then connect by Wi-Fi when you’re done to take a closer look using the larger screen on your phone or tablet.

Scan Results
As is typical for wand scanners, the software that comes with the S8X1103 is suitable for just three tests from our standard suite: for photos, optical character recognition (OCR), and document management. Unfortunately, the S8X1103 got low scores across the board. The silver lining is that except for photos, the low scores are primarily because of the software the scanner comes with.

For photos, the Magix photo editing software is fairly capable. However, any wand or sheet-fed scanner that comes without a plastic sleeve, to protect originals from the damage rollers can do, necessarily starts out with a mark against it. In addition, I saw obvious loss of detail in both dark and light areas of scanned images and a noticeable color shift. Overall, the photo scans were acceptable for snapshot-quality scans, but no more than that.

For both OCR and document management applications, the combination of scanner and PageManager did reasonably well recognizing individual text characters. As I’ve found in other wand scanner reviews, however, when sending the result to a text file, PageManager did such a poor job with formatting, that the result was largely useless for further editing. In addition, although PageManager can combine multiple scanned pages into a single PDF file, when it converts to text format, it puts each page in a separate file.

Also worth mention is that PageManagner includes a stitching module, which lets you do partial scans of originals that are bigger than the scanner’s 8.5-inch width, and then stitch the pieces together into a single image.

In my tests, the stitching generally worked as promised. However the software is a little fussy about how you scan the originals, and there’s no way to know if it will work with any particular set of scans until you try stitching them together. If you get an error message instead of a result, and don’t have the original handy to rescan, you’re pretty much out of luck.

As with other Pandigital scanners I’ve reviewed, the Pandigital Portable Wi-Fi Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (S8X1103) is an awkward marriage between promising hardware and a set of software that holds it back. Given the right software, and a fixed menu system that gives appropriate feedback about the settings, it could easily be Editors’ Choice material. As it is, if you’re willing to spend additional money on better OCR and document management software than in comes with, it can be worth considering. And if you already have the software you need, it’s potentially a highly attractive choice.

Specifications
USB or FireWire Interface Neither
Scanning Options Reflective
Automatic Document Feeder No
Maximum Scan Area Legal
Maximum Optical Resolution 1200 pixels
Ethernet Interface No
Flatbed No

Verdict
The Pandigital Portable Wi-Fi Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (S8X1103) combines all the common extras for wand scanners, from a dock to Wi-Fi, in a single scanner.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc