Truth be told, our interest was piqued as soon as we read that no PC was required. Owners of conventional flatbed scanners likely know just how much of a pain setting one up can be, particularly if you've got an older model (CanoScan LiDE 30, we're looking at you) that the manufacturer (Canon, we're looking at you) refuses to support on newer operating systems (OS X 10.6 and Windows 7, we're looking at you). With the PhotoLink, compatibility is never an issue; you simply scan in a document, pop out the SD card and do whatever you please with the resulting JPG. Unlike most things that promise ease of use, Pandigital's latest actually is shockingly simple to operate. You simply plug it in, tap the Power button, press it once for 300dpi (the default) or twice for 600dpi, and then feed your document in. The startup process takes around four seconds, and Pandigital even tosses in a 1GB SD card for good measure.
There's even a USB
cord throw in on the off chance that you'd rather have your resulting images shot straight to a computer, but sadly, there's no power-over-USB functionality. Trust us, we tried. As you'll notice in the video embedded below, the 600dpi scans do take noticeably longer than the 300dpi scans, but neither are awful waits. Image quality is certainly good enough for home archive purposes and scanning business receipts, but if you're looking to perfectly capture your son's work of art, you'll obviously be spending a lot more than a buck-fifty to begin with. We tossed a 4- x 4-inch color card through the device and scanned it in both 300dpi and 600dpi modes. The resulting image files were 201KB (300dpi) and 758KB (600dpi), with resolutions of 1,472 x 1,472 (300dpi) and 2,960 x 2,960 (600dpi). We compressed each to a maximum of 800 pixels in the gallery below to give you an idea of the image quality differences.
For $150, it's hard to gripe too much about this gem. It's lightweight, compact, easy to travel with and able to function on its own. Our only gripes are as follows: we desperately wish it had room for a few AA batteries in case you needed to use this where there's no AC outlet in sight, and we certainly wish that it could be powered over USB (a pipe dream, we know). And while it would obviously enlarge the device, being able to scan an 11- x 14-inch sheet would be a huge boon for office dwellers. Outside of that, it's a fantastic addition to your gadget family if you're the type who just occasionally scans or needs a quick solution for digitizing a wad of paperwork, but we'd caution you to look elsewhere (and spend more) if you need the absolute best in color capturing.