A laptop personal computer and camera-based laser beam diagnostic system (LaserScan) has been developed which can easily be transported for field installation of lasers and laser systems. Simply, easily customized menus are tailored to specific user requirements employing powerful image processing routines. For pulsed lasers a novel flash detection system allows pulsed or modulated laser beams to be sampled without the requirement for external triggers. The laptop LaserScan systems incorporate an internal modem so data and image files can be easily saved on built-in high-density disk drives and transmitted by telephone to other locations. The laptop system can also be used with the SensorPhysics UV LaserCards and IR LaserCards to provide images of ultraviolet (220-360 nm) lasers and CO2 lasers. These low cost imaging media can be used without the image processing system as well.