A growing subdivision of the scanner market is mobile devices, which derive all the power they need from a single USB connection. Most are fairly basic, but Canon’s ImageFORMULA P-215 goes quite a bit further than most.
The small black and silver box, about as long as a four-way mains power block but a bit thicker and taller, fits easily in most briefcases and backpacks. A small catch in the middle of its front edge opens the top and front cover, which then unfolds into a single feed tray. Small, flick-up guides slide in and out up to A4 width, and a pair of butterfly antennae supports pull-out from its top edge.
The top surface of the open printer has a single, illuminated power button, which can also be used to initiate a scan. This inner surface can be hinged forwards to cope with any paper jams, though we experienced none during testing.
At the back are sockets for USB and 6V power, which can come from a second USB lead or from an optional power supply. There's also a credit-card sized slot set into the front panel, which takes a card for scanning.
This is intended primarily for ID cards, but could also be used, for example, for scanning credit or debit cards in a hotel or guest house. When you feed the card in, its top and bottom sides are automatically scanned and the data is fed through to the CaptureOnTouch software, supplied on the support DVD.
As well as this fully-automated software, which may be all some customers need to use the Canon ImageFORMULA P-215, copies of Nuance PaperPort 11 and Presto! BizCard are also supplied for handling documents and business cards, respectively. With these three applications on a Windows/Mac PC or laptop, there's little you won't be able to scan, except for pages out of books or magazines.