There’s a growing market for portable scanners, which can be carried alongside a notebook or tablet and scan on the fly, whenever the need arises. Canon’s ImageFORMULA P-208 is one of these and includes a full duplex scan head, unusual in such a compact device.
The textured, black case measures 313 x 77 x 40mm, so is only slightly wider than the length of an A4 sheet and small enough in the other dimensions to slip in beside a portable device in even a compact travel bag. It's only 600g, too, so it doesn't add much to the overall weight of your mobile technology.
There's only a single USB cable needed to supply power and data connections to the scanner, so no need for a separate power supply. There's an optional wireless adapter, the WU10, which gives you direct access to any Wi-Fi equipped mobile device. It also provides power to the scanner for up to 400 colour scans.
Opening the scanner ready for work takes no more than flipping down the front cover and swivelling out the two paper guides. These guides take the form of two small bars and you can load up to 20 sheets and have the scanner feed them automatically.
However, the support sections of the guides are very thin and it's actually more awkward to load paper between them than on some more compact guides with larger areas of location. They do ensure paper enters the scanner horizontally, but at the expense of some fiddliness when setting up a scan.
The top cover of the scanner also hinges, so you can clean the scan heads and deal with any paper jam, but the short, straight-through paper path makes jams very unlikely. When the scanner senses paper being fed, the feed rollers grab the top sheet slightly to hold it in place.
There's only one control on the scanner, a large, blue-rimmed scan button which is intimately connected to Canon’s Capture OnTouch software, which can handle a complete scan automatically with default settings, but also enables you to adjust settings for your needs on a specific document.
You can scan directly to pdf, bmp, jpg, tiff and, unusually, pptx formats. Pptx is PowerPoint, so you can create a slide directly. What you can't do, with the supplied software, is create editable text.
For some reason, Canon has decided not to supply OCR software with the ImageFORMULA P-208. While we can see the argument that this is a quick scanner for grabbing page images on the move, if you want to extract passages for research or quotes, it’s annoying not to be able to convert an image to text. You’ll have to rely on an online service or buy OCR software separately.