For my 50th birthday, I booked a trip to one of the genealogist’s favourite places on earth. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah!

I left Toronto early on Sunday morning and after being re-routed because of a cancelled flight, I finally reached Salt Lake City about six hours late on Sunday evening, having flown through the unlikely hub of San Francisco! I was tired and cranky and ready for a quick meal and an early night after my check in. To my surprise, as I gave my reservation information to the hotel’s front desk, they presented me with a mysterious parcel that had been sent to my attention the day before.

Once up in my room, and after dropping my suitcase beside the bed, I totally forgot my fatigue and struggled to open the unexpected package. Inside was the Magic Wand Scanner by VuPoint with case, a microSD memory card, a USB cable, and a couple of AA batteries and a note from my two daughters wishing me a happy birthday and good luck with my research. Within minutes, I had the batteries and the microSD card inserted and was ready to try it out. I scanned my itinerary, my room service guide and the packing list from the box, wishing I had something more exciting to try it out on. After pulling out my laptop and turning it on, I plugged the scanner in using the USB cord and within a few minutes, I was looking at some excellent scanned images. It could not have been easier to use!

The next day at the library, the Magic Wand proved invaluable for print books. Instead of having to line up at the scanning station, I was able to scan the pages I was interested in right at the research table I was working at. Having the scan window slightly offset allowed me to start right at the inside fold of a page and scan out towards the edge, making sure I got all the text on the page. A guideline at the top and bottom ends of the scanner made it easy to make sure the scanner window was properly centered over the text. I was also able to scan the book cover and the inside title and publication pages, making it super easy to cite my sources later.

handheld scanner sample photo
Magic Wand Sample Photo

Since Salt Lake City, I’ve taken my Magic Wand on every research trip I make. It’s lightweight and can scan in either black and white or colour and in both high resolution and in lower resolution. There have been a few archives where it was not allowed, but for the most part, it is considered to be the similar to a digital camera and can be used to scan most non-fragile books and documents.

The Magic Wand even does a good job of scanning photographs when set to high resolution. I’ll probably continue to use my flat bed scanner when I’m at home to scan family photographs but I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my Magic Wand on a visit to relatives that might have a photo album or old scrapbook to share.

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