The Canon imageFORMULA P-150 is a high-quality portable document scanner
Imagine the scene. You're on the road. You're tired and lugging several suitcases behind you, including your laptop. And you've also got to haul along a scanner with you. If this situation seems familiar then you may already have looked over portable document scanners like the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 and S300. Canon has now thrown its own sheet-fed hat into the ring, and the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 is an impressive contender indeed.
For a start, there are the sleek looks. The ScanSnap S300 was cute in comparison with bulkier full-size models, but its vaguely cheap-looking blend of silver and black and rather blocky styling is glaring when compared with the beautifully sleek black lines of the Canon. And while the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 isn't perhaps as lightweight as you might expect given its cute casing, that 970g is still a good deal lighter than the 1.4kg Fujitsu S300 - and almost three times as light as the S510.
Two USB cables are used to connect the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 to a laptop or desktop PC. One of these is optional and provides additional power - if you only have one USB port available, and don't want to invest in an external power supply, it will still work, only with slightly reduced speed.
The Canon imageFORMULA P-150 supposedly turns on and communicates with the computer the second you open its casing (closing the lid turns it off again). Initially we had one or two problems getting it to operate in this seamless manner, but once we'd worked out which connections need to be made and in which order, it proved very straightforward to use.
The lid of the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 unfurls to turn into the paper feed, and you can pull out two little flaps (plus additional supports at the top) to keep the paper in place.
The Canon imageFORMULA P-150 is remarkably unfussy about how the paper is fed, and it did a good job of correcting our slightly crooked paper. However there seemed to be no way of preventing paper from falling forwards - due to the slightly curved angle of the paper feed, the paper would occasionally starting rolling away from the feed.
In practice though, none of the sheets actually fell out of the P-150 while it was in operation.
Although you can load the extensive software bundle, the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 comes with its own software built in, so you can use it to scan from almost any PC. This is a significant boon when on the road, and gives the P-150 a sizeable advantage over its competitors.
Canon claim that the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 can do up to 30 sides (15 double-sided sheets of paper) in a minute. We didn't quite see this, but we were able to scan 25 pages (12.5 pieces of double-sided paper) at a resolution of 150dpi. The scans here aren't obviously of the highest quality, but they're fine for rough text, simple images and bills.
At 300dpi, the speed dropped to a still very decent 12.6ppm. This remains a good turn of speed, and the quality was remarkably good, with colour images pleasingly rendered, and text nice and sharp.
And the Canon imageFORMULA P-150 is quite capable of even better quality scans, its 600dpi mode offering some good results, providing you can put up with less than 3ppm.
The Fujitsu scanners allow you to convert to searchable PDFs as default. The Canon imageFORMULA P-150's main software unfortunately doesn't let you do this. You can, though, explore such options in the bundled PaperPort 11 sofware. BizCard 5, an excellent means of digitally converting your business cards, is another useful addition.
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