Canon ImageFormula P-215 review
Canon's P-215 is the only portable device in the company's ImageFormula range of high-speed document scanners. Despite a footprint half the size of a sheet of A4 paper, it incorporates an automatic document feeder (ADF) more commonly found on full-sized scanners and MFPs. As such, it's a direct competitor to the similar Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300, which costs about the same.
The P-215 looks unremarkable, but it's a brilliantly functional design. A strong lid, hinged in two places, folds around the top and front surfaces and latches securely down, protecting the scanner from dust and knocks. When opened, this forms the ADF's surprisingly substantial paper chute, with two flip-up document guides and pivoting ear-like supports for longer paper.
While compact and easily portable, the scanner is heavier than you might expect thanks to a metal base that helps to make it robust. Our only criticism of the design is that the power and data connectors feel slightly flexible in their sockets, which aren't recessed into the device to protect them from knocks. Like most of the scanner's competitors there's no output tray, and no case is supplied.
Scanning batches of documents can be a pain, so it's vital that a sheet-fed scanner comes with software to make it easy. Canon supplies the P-215 with a comprehensive bundle that includes applications for optical character recognition (OCR) and business card scanning – there's a dedicated feed slot for these. The software includes a standard TWAIN driver – an advantage over the ScanSnap S1300 – but the highlight is undoubtedly Canon's superb CaptureOnTouch software.
Using 'full auto' mode, capturing documents is as simple as loading the ADF and pressing the scanner's single start/stop button. The stack of paper is scanned on both sides at once, with the software automatically removing any blank pages, re-orientating any upside-down pages and correcting any page skew. You can browse through a large page-by-page preview of the results before choosing how to save them; options include JPEG and TIFF image files, PDF files with or without embedded searchable text, and cloud services such as Google Docs and Evernote.
It's possible to change the defaults, adjusting options such as resolution, colour depth, or the compression used when creating images, but for most everyday documents the fully automatic mode works perfectly. It's fairly quick, too, capturing 16 images from a jumbled mixture of 10 single- and double-sided pages in just a minute and a half. The preview lets you spot and fix any problems; our only issue was a single magazine cover that remained upside down. When saved as a searchable PDF, the image and OCR results seemed perfect, and even scans of photographs were acceptable for occasional use.
The P-215 doesn't come cheap, but with a good design, strong results and incredibly simple software, it's a great product. Although there isn't much to choose between this and the very capable Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300, complex jobs such as creating multi-page searchable PDFs are faster with the Canon, and in use its software has the edge. As such, we'd recommend it to anyone needing to capture lengthy documents while on the move.
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