Wand scanners like the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand with AutoFeed Dock PDS-ST450-VP, are relatively rare, but they’re becoming more common. The category is defined by pairing a wand scanner with a dock that turns it into a manual-feed scanner. The first one we saw was the Pandigital Portable Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (PanScn09) that I reviewed earlier this year. Then came the Ambir MobileScan Pro 100 . The PDS-ST450-VP is the third I’ve reviewed in this group, and in many ways the most impressive.
Like both the Pandigital and Ambir scanner, the PDS-ST450-VP can scan without a computer. As with most scanners that offer that convenience, it lacks any way to let you see the scan until later, after you’ve moved the files to a PC. The only feedback you get when you’re scanning is a warning, in the form a red status light, if you go too fast when you scan by hand. This helps minimize the chances of winding up with an unusable scan, but doesn’t guarantee a good scan.
Some other computer-free scanners, including one from VuPoint Solutions, have workarounds for this issue. The Editors’ Choice VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST44-VP lets you send scan files to your smartphone or tablet by Wi-Fi, so you can see the scan while you can rescan if you need to. However, no current wand scanners that come with docks offer Wi-Fi. Until that changes, if you want a wand scanner with a dock, you’ll have to do without seeing your scan results until later.
Basics and Setup
The PDS-ST450-VP scanner itself offers typical portability for a wand scanner, weighing in at 6.3 ounces. The dock, however, is heftier than the most of the competition, at 1.4 pounds. It also needs a power source, which means it has to be connected by the USB cable to either a computer or the supplied power adaptor, with the adaptor plugged into an outlet.
Whatever the dock loses in portability, it makes up for in fit and finish. In particular, it’s much easier to seat the scanner and remove it than it is with some other scanners and docks, taking less than a second to snap it in or take it out.
In addition to its dock, the scanner comes with a permanently installed rechargeable battery, a power adaptor, a USB cable that can connect to either a computer or the power adaptor, and Abbyy FineReader 9.0 Sprint for optical character recognition (OCR). Missing from this list is a microSD or microSDHC card. Given that you need a memory card in order to scan, that’s important to know. If you don’t have an extra card on hand, be sure to order one along with the scanner. According to VuPoint Solutions, you can use cards with up to a 32GB capacity.
Setup is easy. Plug in a memory card, charge the battery by connecting the scanner to a computer or the power adaptor with the USB cable, and optionally install FineReader on your computer. Once the battery is charged you’re ready to go.
The available scan settings for the PDS-ST450-VP depend on whether you’re using it as a wand scanner or as a manual-feed scanner. As a wand scanner you can set the resolution to 300, 600, or 900 pixels per inch (ppi), set the color mode to color or grayscale, and set the file format to JPG or image PDF. As a manual-feed scanner, the color mode and file format choices are the same, but the resolution choices are 300, 600, and 1200 ppi.
After choosing your settings, you can scan by placing the scanner at the top or side of a page, pressing the scan button, and then sweeping down or across the page. When you’re using the dock, you feed the page far enough for the rollers to grab it, and then let go of the page. With the manual feed, the scan took roughly 12 to 15 seconds per page in my tests.
As with most wand scanners, you have two choices for moving the files to your hard drive. You can either physically move the memory card to your computer and copy the files, or you can connect the scanner to your computer by USB cable, let your computer recognize the memory card as a USB drive, and then copy the files. As a variation on the second choice, you can put the scanner in the dock and connect the USB cable to the dock. In this case, you also need to press a button to put the scanner into USB mode before the computer will recognize it as a USB drive.
Given that Abbyy FineReader is the only program the scanner comes with, the only two applications I could test it for were optical character recognition (OCR) and document management. It did reasonably well on both, although the lack of an automatic document feeder and duplexing (two-sided scanning), puts a low ceiling on the maximum possible scores in both cases.
For OCR, the combination of the scanner and FineReader did a good job at text recognition, recognizing text on our Times New Roman test page at 10 points and on our Arial page at 6 points without a mistake at 300 ppi and recognizing both at 6 points without a mistake at 600 ppi.
Even better, FineReader can turn multiple individual scanned pages into a single, multipage text file for editing. For document management, similarly, it can turn multiple pages into a single, multipage searchable PDF file.
Even though the scanner doesn’t include any photo editing software, I also scanned some photos. The results were snapshot quality. Keep in mind, however, that you can easily damage an original if you put a photo through a sheet feeder, or even run rollers over it with wand scanning.
I’d like this scanner even more if you could run the dock from batteries, as you can with the Ambir MobileScan Pro 100, for example. However the Ambir Pro 100 is hobbled by software limitations, a problem it shares with the Pandigital scanner. The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand with AutoFeed Dock PDS-ST450-VP stands out primarily because the software it comes with does the best job in this group for OCR, which means the scanner does the best job as well.
More Scanner Reviews:
|USB or FireWire Interface||Neither|
|Automatic Document Feeder||No|
|Maximum Scan Area||Legal|
|Maximum Optical Resolution||1200 pixels|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc