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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Magic Wand II - VuPoint Scanner Review

The MagicWand II hand-held scanner by VuPoint, is most often reviewed positively by genealogists, if you research online review forums. 

After some months of pondering and researching, I finally ordered one. I was getting tired of using my iPhone to snap images in libraries, and then go through the whole "sharing/download" plus editing process to remove any green tint from overhead lighting.
MagicWand II - VuPoint Scanner

The Wand allows you to scan anything: book pages, covers, photos, documents - without man-handling them in a flatbed scanner and risking damage to bindings or fragile paper.

I bought mine refurbished, for $79.00, and as a complete package which includes the following:
(sorry for the amateur photo, I was in a hurry...)


-Scanner (red, but there are many color choices) with LCD menu screen; 8.5" length; 300 & 600dpi capability
-8 GB SD memory card & Micro SD adaptor
-Two carrying cases: a standard nylon sheath, plus a nice padded, zip case
-ABBYY Fine Reader software CD  (NOTE !! This program is ONLY for Windows OS.  If you have a Mac, you would have to be operating Windows in order to make use of this software)
-Lint free cloth to clean scanner glass
-USB cord for downloading images to computer
-White balance calibration paper
-Two AA batteries
-90 day warranty

This package happens to be a great deal, if you are looking to buy the scanner.  Often the SD Memory card is not included. The padded case was a bonus, and the red color can often cost more than say, black. So shop around.   (Contact me if you'd like to know where I purchased it.)

Also, I think this is the first time I've bought anything refurbished online, so I was nervous.  It arrived looking completely untouched and brand-new, complete with menu screen protector. In went the batteries, a brief scan of the Start Up guide, and I was in business.

I just got this yesterday so I am giving you my initial reactions and results.  In a week or so, I'm going to post another review of the scanner, after I've continued to have more experience with it.

It works great, basically.  So far, I have scanned at 300 dpi.  Naturally, I scanned a few pages and some images and immediately downloaded them, to see what the jpeg quality would be like.  Not bad at all!  I have not white balanced the scanner yet either, so I think those images will be even sharper after I do so.

Image Reproduction:

Here are a few of images:  (From a Complimentary copy of "City of Nashua Report, 1923" - an elegant, weighty annual report of 384 gold-edged pages)

Book Cover scan


The cover comes out very well.  Even the leather texture of this old book reproduces well.  The gold lettering completely true.  Each image  you scan can be cropped later, for your purposes.  And the 8.5" scanning radius can be limiting for larger objects.  However, for larger items you can scan in two or more sections.


The page below came out relatively well.

One of the tricks is to line up your scanner
correctly from the start.  You will be scanning over a page that wants to curve and curl.  Also, when scanning a page from a book, it is recommended to scan with Magic Wand parallel to inner binding and scan across the page to outer edge.  Once you download this image, you can easily rotate it in Preview, or any image editing program you use.  Only takes a second.

The next image shows more clearly one of the possible pitfalls of MagicWand:  the wavy-gravy image scan due to a curved  page.

This has happened to me a few times, which again I say with the caveat:  I have only just begun.

Time-Saving Element:

As mentioned above, the fact that you are working on the curved page of an open book, can create a curved image, if you are not careful.  Again, this can be corrected in Photoshop with basic editing skills.  I do it all the time.  However, my excitement about the Magic Wand, was that it would reduce my time editing images.

A concern I have had thus far:  the scanner is meant to go easy on books by not crushing them into a flatbed scanner.  However, I find you still have to be pretty careful not to splay a fragile binding, while you are making sure your scanner will capture the words closest to the inner binding.  This need for care does take time, so I would say the scanner in some ways is not a time-saver, in this respect.  Though, it may make up for time loss, in the ease of downloading and the lack of lighting abnormalities.

Your purpose for the MagicWand will dictate whether it is right for you.  It is, in general,  excellent for quickly copying information that you may later transcribe.  Also, note that I have not/cannot make use of the ABBYY software (Mac girl that I am) and scan the images as OCR: editable text.  I would like to know from a Windows person how effectively this works.  All reports online are that the text reproduces almost perfectly into OCR form. 

I did scan two BW photos.  One of them scanned perfectly.  The other was a mass of wavy, messy lines.  Not sure why, but again:  practice makes perfect.

Okay!  That's enough on the MagicWand II for today.  I will end by saying I'm very pleased so far.  This will be packed into my bag next time I'm hitting a library or historical society.  Not to mention, helping me with blog images!   A later review after more practice will appear here soon, so check back.

Cheers!



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