For quite a while I have been eyeing the Canon imageFORMULA line of scanners, specifically the “Scan-tini” varieties. Fortunately, Canon was awesome enough to send me a review unit of their newest scanner, the Canon imageFORMULA P–215.
What’s In The Box?
Inside the box is the scanner, a Reference Guide, a USB cable, and another USB cable for power.
You might have noticed that I didn’t mention an AC adapter for plugging the scanner into the wall. That is because the P–215 doesn’t come with one.
You can apparently buy one separately (though I didn’t see it on Amazon). The scanner can either run off one USB 2.0 cable, or two USB 2.0 cables drawing power from the other one. It also supports USB 3.0.
Supposedly running it off of two USB 2.0 cables will make it go faster, but I have to admit I didn’t see a big difference.
It is not unusual for a “mobile” scanner to have the ability to run off of USB power only, but I was a little surprised that a scanner this size and weight didn’t include the AC adapter.
With trays closed, the P–215 is 1.6“ x 11.2” x 3.7" and weighs 2.2 pounds.
If you have the trays open and the paper guides all the way extended, it can get pretty tall (and bonus, look like Batman).
Here is the now-obligatory size comparison with the Steve Jobs book.
It is a very compact scanner, though it feels a bit on the heavy side. I wouldn’t want to lug it around in my bag day in and day out, but for moving it around a home, office or conference table it is not a problem.
A cool feature of the P–215 is that it can scan a document without having to install any software.
On the back of the scanner there is an Auto-Start Switch.
If you switch that to ON and then plug in the scanner, your Mac or Windows computer will recognize it as a drive and a window will pop up for CaptureOnTouchLite, the software that is actually built into the scanner.
(The screenshots are for Mac, but Windows is the same.)
When you double-click the application, you are then taken to the scanner’s built-in software.
You can either go with “Full Auto Mode” if you want to do a quick scan, or turn that off and configure the scanner’s settings.
Once you hit the scan button and the document scans, a popup comes up where you can edit the scan.
From there, you can choose what to name and where to save the document.
All-in-all, a pretty great feature if you can’t or don’t want to install drivers and software on the computer you are scanning to.
Speed And Capacity
The scanner is listed at 10 pages per minute for color. I got about 7.5 seconds a page using CaptureOnTouch Lite at 300dpi, which works out to about 8 pages per minute. Remarkably though, this includes OCRing the document.
When the document pops out of the scanner, it is already searchable. There isn’t a wait time afterwards like there is with other scanners. I don’t know how they do that, but it is nice.
As far as capacity goes, the P–215 is listed to hold 20 sheets at a time. The paper guides can flip up to hold more paper than a normal scanner this size. Clever.
One advantage that the Canon P–215 has over its cousin the P–150 is that it can scan plastic cards.
There is a slot in the front that you can put a card in, and it will scan it.
I couldn’t see any instructions in the paper Reference Guide where it tells you how to do this, so there was a nervous moment where I put the card in and hoped it wouldn’t try to bend it. It all worked out though.
Installation & Setup
I’ve already covered scanning without installing any software, which you can do if you want, but there are drivers that you can put on your computer to make for more efficient scanning. We’ll get to the bundled software in a minute.
When you pop in the installation DVD, you are faced with the choice of Typical Installation or Custom Installation. Be careful here.
The Typical installation will just install the CaptureOnTouch driver software and not the bundled applications. The Custom installation will install the bundled software.
I would guess that most people actually want the Custom installation. Wacky wording.
Both the Reference Guide and the installation wizard warn you to turn the Auto-Start Switch to OFF if you are going to be scanning using the software included on the DVD.
Aside from the CaptureOnTouch Lite software that is installed on the scanner itself, the P–215 comes bundled with the following software.
- Canon CaptureOnTouch
- Nuance PaperPort
- NewSoft Presto! BizCard
- Canon CaptureOnTouch
- NewSoft Presto! PageManager
- NewSoft Presto! BizCard
I think Canon’s CaptureOnTouch software deserves a post of its own at some point, so suffice it to say that while a bit slow, it is quite functional. If you want it, you can have a lot of control over how it scans.
You can also create pre-defined profiles, or Jobs in their parlance, for your frequently used scanning activities. You can even map which Job gets executed by the scanner’s physical scan button.
One of the big differentiator for the imageFORMULA line in general and the P–215 in particular is that it supports TWAIN.
Without getting all technical, TWAIN means that you can initiate scans from different applications, and you don’t need to run your scanning through the scanner vendor’s proprietary software.
This worked well for me, sort of. On Windows, I started up Lucion FileCenter. FileCenter could see the scanner and scan a document from within the software.
On the Mac, I did the same thing from Presto! PageManager and Mariner Paperless that I already had installed, and those worked as well.
What didn’t work was scanning from both operating systems’ built-in scanning software. On Windows I tried scanning from Windows Fax & Scan, and on the Mac I tried scanning from Image Capture. In both cases, the scanner couldn’t be detected. I am not sure what was going on there, or if it was user error.
It’s weird how it works from different applications but not the OS.
The CaptureOnTouch software comes with Evernote and Google Docs plugins, and predefines some Jobs that lets you scan to the Evernote client.
Since scan quality can be subjective, I have scanned a color page from a magazine, a grayscale document, and a black and white typed document. They’re linked below in PDF format. All are scanned at 300dpi.
The Canon P–215 is an impressive entry into the personal document scanner category. It is fast, and the software is very functional. I also like the fact that it comes with document management software for both Mac and Windows.
If you need a scanner that supports TWAIN, the P–215 is an excellent choice in this category. The fact that it doesn’t come with an AC adapter is a bit annoying, but if you can live without that, you will probably be happy with the scanner.
At the time of writing, the Canon P–215 is available on Amazon for $285.
What does Scan-tini mean you ask? I have no idea. ↩
The manual says that if you don’t turn the switch on BEFORE plugging it in, “malfunctions may occur”. What that means, I am not sure. ↩
Instructions are in the manual on the DVD. I just hadn’t installed it yet. ↩
You can, of course, de-select what you don’t want. ↩