Canon has been making scanners for years, so the company certainly knows its way around the category. But the portable scanner market is highly competitive, with everyone from Xerox and Brother to Fujitsu and Neat Receipts looking for a piece of the action. The Canon imageFormula P-215 Scan-tini ($315) emphasizes quality and versatility over portability, featuring a duplex scanner, dedicated card scanner, and document feeder tray capable of holding up to 20 sheets. In a market dominated by models priced under $200, is the Scan-tini worth the splurge?
The heavyweight prizefighter of portable scanners, the Canon imageFormula P-215 weighs in at 2.15 pounds and measures 11.2 x 3.7 x 1.6 inches with its document feeder tray closed. By contrast, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 weighs 12.2 ounces and measures 10.7 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches, while the Epson WorkForce DS-30 weighs just 11.8 ounces and measures 10.9 x 2 x 1.5 inches.
The P-215's lid and base are coated in a matte black paint that helps keep fingerprint smudges at bay. Wrapped around the scanner's midsection is a coating of flat silver paint that gives the P-215 a bit of attitude. Around back are the P-215's power and USB ports, as well as a Kensington lock slot and the unit's Auto Start switch.
Unfold the P-215's lid and you get a document feeder tray large enough to accommodate letter-size documents. You lift the tray's adjustable wing-shaped flaps to form a paper guide capable of holding up to 20 sheets of paper. The P-215's deck, like the scanner‘s cover, is painted a matte black with the Canon logo prominently in its center. To the right of the logo is a large silver and blue scan button.
On the bottom right of the deck's face is the P-215's dedicated card scanner. Get a card jammed while scanning it - as will happen on occasion - and you can unfold the deck to free it.
Setup and Ease of Use
Users can connect the Canon to a notebook in one of four ways: using one USB 2.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, or a USB 2.0 port and a power adapter. Connecting the P-215 to one USB 2.0 port won't cost you any functionality, but use the provided USB 2.0 power cable and your speed scan times should drop. Using a USB 3.0 port will also lower scan speeds , as will connecting via a USB 2.0 port and a power adapter (sold separately).
Canon offers two options for setting up the P-215. The first, and easiest, is to use the system's CaptureOnTouch Lite plug-and-scan feature. Built into the scanner, CaptureOnTouch lets you start scanning and saving documents to your computer without installing any software. But as convenient as CaptureOnTouch Lite is, it lacks the functionality a full install offers. For instance, you don't get access to NewSoft's Presto! BizCard 6 business card reader or ScanSoft's PaperPort 11 and PageViewer software, each of which can prove quite useful to business users.
As we expected, CaptureOnTouch Lite was the easiest scanning program to use out of Canon's offerings. We simply had to press the scan button on the P-215's deck and the device would immediately begin scanning our documents. Once scanned, the software let us choose if we wanted to send the file to a specific application such as Evernote, save it in a particular folder and choose the file format we wanted to use.
If you're looking for more functionality, though, we suggest using PaperPort 11. From here, we were able to adjust settings such as resolution and orientation, and edit them all in one program. PaperPort also lets you organize your scanned documents, as well as export them to other applications or the Web.
The imageFormula P-215 can scan documents ranging in size from 2 x 2.8 inches to 8.4 x 14 inches, and can scan up to 15 pages per minute. And thanks to its document feeder tray, you can scan up to 20 sheets in one shot. We tested the P-215's scan speeds with the scanner connected to two USB 2.0 ports and found it to be just about even with other more portable scanners. It took the P-215 approximately 6.8 seconds to scan and process a one-sided black and white document. That's faster than Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100, which took 9.4 seconds. But the Fujitsu bested the Canon when it came to scanning a business card, cutting the Canon's 7.6-second time in half (3.5 seconds).
Scanning a 8.5 x 11-inch photo of a vineyard at 600 dpi took 1 minute and 12 seconds with both USB 2.0 cables plugged in. We then ran the same test with just one USB 2.0 cable connected which, surprisingly, took the same amount of time. Regardless, the Fujitsu scanned the same photo in just 28.9 seconds.
Despite taking its sweet time, the image quality the P-215 produced was second to none. Text looked sharp, while color photos were rich and lacked any hint of distortion or stray artifacts. The same image scanned with the Fujitsu looked brighter, but as a result, also lost some of the color of the original photo.
Unlike other portable scanners, the imageFormula P-215 supports duplex scanning, which means you'll be able to scan double-sided documents in one scan. That may not seem like a big deal at first, but when you're scanning a large amount of documents, a duplexer can be a lifesaver. The P-215's full-auto feature, which lets you scan multiple documents one after the other, also came in handy.
Support and Warranty
The imageFormula P-215 ships with a standard one-year limited parts and labor warranty. You can also purchase Canon's CarePAK Extended Service Plan for extra protection. The plan gives you up to three years of services from the date of your purchase, as well as toll-free access to Canon's technical support. CarePAK also gives you access to Canon's InstantExchange replacement program.
Canon's $315 imageFormula P-215 Scan-tini is somewhat large for a portable scanner. Models like Fujitsu's $199 ScanSnap S1100 slips more easily into a laptop bag. However, the P-215 compensates for its heft with sheer versatility, from its duplexer to the added convenience of its document feeder tray and dedicated card scanner. Add in top-notch scan quality and the P-215 is a device that deserves your consideration.