Canon ImageFormula P-208 review

Simon Handby
21 Apr 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A compact and light portable scanner that comes with brilliant software; the P-208 is nearly perfect


The ImageFormula P-208 is a highly portable, USB-powered device designed for mobile workers who need to capture or archive documents. Though not the smallest example of the type it's certainly compact enough to slip into larger laptop bags.

Canon ImageFormula P-208

It’s about the size of a clingfilm dispenser and is slightly larger and heavier than its main rival, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100. Both scanners flex when twisted, but the P-208 feels generally more sturdy. Unlike the S1100, the P-208 captures both sides in a single pass (duplex scanning), which is a big advantage.

There's no room for a proper paper feed, but Canon has engineered two paper guides which rotate into place. These feel surprisingly robust given the available space, and their movement is linked, so documents stay centred. The scanner's top panel rotates upwards by 50 degrees or so, giving access to clear any paper jams from inside the mechanism. Sadly, there's no output tray; scanned paper simply falls out of the back.

Canon ImageFormula P-208

With scanners, the bundled software is just as important as the hardware, and the P-208 comes with an excellent suite that includes Canon's CaptureonTouch software, Presto! BizCard Reader and support for cloud services, including Evernote, Google Drive and Microsoft SharePoint. Using CaptureonTouch, scanning is a simple case of setting a document, pressing the scanner's function button and waiting a few seconds.

Scanned images are displayed as thumbnails, with a preview of the currently selected page. It's easy to rotate pages, delete blank sides and save the scans as an image or searchable PDF file, among other functions.

Canon Image ImageFormula P-208 CaptureOnTouch

Canon's CaptureonTouch software is easy to use, but advanced options are available if needed

Using the blissfully easy software, we captured a 10-page single-sided document in just two minutes and 24 seconds despite a minor misfeed; recovering simply involved re-setting the page and pressing the scan button. We had no other misfeeds, even during a more challenging 10-page duplex test of mixed, low-quality originals. This finished in two minutes and 10 seconds, and exporting the scan to a searchable PDF took only another five seconds. The optical character recognition (OCR) results were very accurate, while images themselves were sharp and detailed with no obvious signs of compression.

Canon Image ImageFormula P-208 Installing Plug-ins

Plug-ins let you scan to cloud services such as Google Drive or Evernote directly

The more attractive Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 has a slight edge over the P-208 in terms of speed, and its paper handling is slightly easier in practice. However, Canon's software is marginally better and its default settings produce better results. The two scanners are closely matched in performance and price, but the P-208's support for duplex scanning gives it the edge, making it our Best Buy.


AwardBest Buy

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area previewN/A
A4 document at 150dpi10s
A4 document at 300dpi14s
6x4in photo at 600dpi24s
6x4in photo at 1200dpiFail
Single 35mm negative at 2400dpiN/A
Single 35mm negative at max dpiN/A


Scanner technologyCIS
Max optical resolution600dpi
Max interpolated resolution600dpi
Output bit depth24-bit
Maximum document sizeA4/legal
Maximum transparency sizeN/A
Film formats acceptedNo
Function buttons1
Scan head lockN/A
USB poweredyes
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Software includedISIS/TWAIN driver, CaptureonTouch, CaptureonTouch Lite, Presto! BizCard Reader. Evernote, SharePoint and Google Docs plugins available


USB cable includedyes
Power consumption standbyN/A
Power consumption activeN/A

Buying Information


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