A sheetfed document scanner designed to allow you to take bundles of documents and turn them into electronic forms, the Canon DR-C125 actually looks more like a paper shredder. It's not cheap, but it is only half the price of the Canon DR-M160.
The Canon DR-C125 is certainly compact, and its various trays and feeds can be tucked away to create a model that measures just 156 x 217mm. But you do pay a price for such convenience.
The page holder doesn't extend very far, and its flimsy construction means that often the paper fed into the device isn't terribly well supported - Canon suggests you can feed up to 30 sheets, although we'd be wary of stacking up more than 20 in the Canon DR-C125.
The Canon DR-C125's front folds down, so any paper jams are easily corrected, and a Long Document Mode lets you work with sheets that are up to 3m long. See also: Group test: what's the best scanner?
The front control panel is very simple, with just a pair of buttons for power and for 'automatic scanning'. The latter option will load up the software and prepare the scanner, although the default Capture OnTouch interface still insists that you select your options before initiating the actual scanning, so it's not fully automatic.
You have a choice of outputs for the finished pages. Using the 'Straight Through' option, you can have the scanned documents dropping out of the bottom at the front of the scanner. Here it's very important that you have this on a flat surface. Indeed, the best location could be on the edge of a table so that the scanned sheets can fall to the floor or into a suitably placed basket. Otherwise, they have a tendency to get furled as they slip out, often preventing the next sheet from coming out properly. Visit: Business Advisor.
We did suffer a number of jams in testing when the C125's Straight Through was anything other than perfectly clear.
A better choice is what Canon calls its 'J-Path'. The feed path for this resembles the letter J, with the finished sheets curling back up and then being popped out from the low-slung feeder on the fron. While this isn't as elegant a solution as the nicely curved output tray you get on the M160, it's a very serviceable alternative that proved relatively trouble-free in testing.
The slightly curved J-Path mechanism is a little more sensitive than the bottom feeder, and you'll need to be more careful when you're running thicker source material through the Canon - the J-Path supports a maximum thickness of 0.15mm, rather than the 0.25mm of the Straight Through.
The C125 comes with TWAIN and ISIS drivers, allowing it to be used with any compatible software package. Not that you're likely to need third-party programs, though, since the scanner comes with a bumper software bundle. The titles include the handy and relatively powerful OCR package OmniPage 4 SE, the organiser PaperPort 11, and a business cards utility, BizCard 6.
The main interface is Capture OnTouch, a precise but reasonably functional front-end that lets you move systematically through the process of scanning documents.
You can generate compressed or uncompressed versions, and you can convert documents into various file types, including PDF (both searchable and non-searchable), TIFF, JPEG, BMP and PowerPoint PPTX. Given the price, this is a full suite of software, and almost every user should find something to meet their needs.
The C125 has plenty of speed, and at a resolution of 200dpi, it turned our main 20-sheet test job (consisting of 10 double-sided sheets) into a searchable PDF in 49 seconds, or a rate of 24.5ppm - almost identical to the 25ppm stated by Canon.
You can actually exceed that 25ppm by opting only to convert documents into picture files (28.9ppm), or by turning resolution down to 150dpi. We wouldn't recommend the latter choice, although at 200dpi quality is decent enough. Characters are a touch light and the C125 doesn't render flesh tones in photographs perfectly. Nonetheless, for letters and documents the low-quality mode should be fine. Speed falls to 9.8ppm at 300dpi, and to less than half that at 600dpi.
At 300dpi, OCR is strong, with the C125 able to recognise all but the most complex of documents. Should you have comprehensive OCR needs, you may wish to buy a full and up-to-date OCR title.