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Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 Review


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  • Can scan ID cards
  • Neat cover/feed tray
  • 20-sheet feed tray


  • No case supplied
  • Photo scanning could be better
  • Bit heavy for true portability

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £217.00
  • Full colour scanner
  • Duplex scan heads
  • Quick scans for portable device
  • Easy to use Capture OnTouch software
  • Excellent software bundle

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.
Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 - Open
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.
Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 - Back
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.

Canon quotes speeds of up to 15ppm for the ImageFORMULA P-215, 30 page images per minute, if you’re scanning duplex. The feed tray can take up to 20 sheets at a time and feeds from the bottom of the stack, so multipage documents retain their page order. We scanned a 20-side, 10-page test document at 200ppi to a PDF document and the scanner completed the task in 1:00, giving it a real-world speed of 10ppm, very impressive for a portable device.

A single, A4 page scanned simplex in just six seconds, giving the same speed as the multipage test. Taking the resolution up to 300ppi and scanning in greyscale, followed by PaperPort’s OCR into a Word document, took a combined time of 14s, very quick. Finally, a 15 x 10cm photo at the scanner’s top resolution of 600ppi took a more leisurely 24s.
Canon ImageFORMULA P-215
Scan quality at 200ppi, black-and-white, is good enough for archival or to produce electronic documents for reference. At 300ppi, the test OCR worked well and although a couple of the fonts in the resulting document were incorrect, the layout was well maintained and we couldn’t find any mis-recognitions in the text itself. As PaperPort is delighted to remind you, Nuance also sells the professional OmniPage OCR application, if you need a more sophisticated tool.
Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 - Card Slot
The only scan result which was disappointing was our test photo print, which we fed through at the scanner’s top resolution of 600ppi. This came through much too dark and with a couple of vertical lines in the image. The brightness can be compensated for, but the lines are more obtrusive.

Scanning a photo ID card, using CaptureOnTouch, produced a 200ppi image of the card by default, though this can be set higher within the program and then produces a satisfactory image.

The Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 is the best of the small, portable page scanners we’ve yet seen. It offers extra facilities not available in rival scanners at the same price, such as duplex and plastic card scanning. Though it’s not perfect, particularly on scanning photos, and it doesn’t have either self-contained storage or internal battery, if we needed to a take a portable scanner to accompany a laptop on a trip, this would cover most eventualities.

Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 - Feature Table

Canon ImageFORMULA P-215 - Speeds and Costs

Trusted Score

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Score in detail

  • Value 7
  • Features 10
  • Scan Speed 9
  • Scan Quality 8

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