Magic Wand Portable Scanner

I’ve been using this hand-held scanner for a little over 2 years. I don’t use it daily, more like several times a month, but for my purposes the name is appropriate… MAGIC.

I’m a CAD sub-contractor, and am often asked to create high resolution, photo-realistic images of (among other things) furniture or cabinet designs. In order for these images to be as accurate as possible, I need to use the finish sample (such as a wooden panel) selected for the project.

In the past, I took a digital photo with the best lighting I could find, and manipulated the image in software to attempt to even out the lighting, correct the perspective, crop out the background, etc., creating a “texture” that my CAD program used to render the object. This was always time-consuming and usually resulted in less than stellar results.

Now, I can run this scanner across a 8-inch x 8-inch sample, or even an 8-foot-long sample, and get a full-size, good resolution, consistently lighted image of the board, or other material. Often the only reason I will edit the scanned image in a photo manipulation program is to reduce the resolution. (Recently, a production manager commented that images from one of my CAD models that had been rendered with a scan of a stained burl veneer sample looked better than the finished piece of furniture.)

This scanner will not scan (easily) without a little distortion somewhere. It is relying on you to push it along, after all. The more consistently you move the scanner, the less distortion you’ll get. That said, I’m usually surprised at how little distortion there is. (But I would not count on it to give me a perfect scan of an important picture of grandma.)

It uses 2 AA batteries – and they last a long time if left out of the unit when not in use. It produces Jpeg images, which it stores on a microSD card – not included. It uses a common USB connection and includes a cable to transfer images to a computer. There is no special software required to access the images on the scanner in Windows (Vista thru 8). I’m not sure about WinXP or Mac, but any SD card reader ought to be able to read the Jpeg files on the microSD card.

I highly recommend the VP Solutions carrying case ($15) as well. It has plenty of room for the scanner, battery storage cable, etc. It is compact and very solid.

-- Sean Frey  

Magic Wand Portable Scanner
PDS ST415 (replaces the PDS-ST410)
$80

Available from Amazon