Although we've seen a number of sheetfed scanners over the last year, truly portable models like the Canon P-215 remain something of a rarity.
Perfect for mobile workers who need to keep up with the paperwork, but who are frequently on the road and so don't have access to a permanent office, the Canon P-215 undoubtedly fills a need.
Stashing it away in a bag won't be a problem, as the Canon P-215 is extremely compact. The protective lid folds back to create the paper feed, and there's little to worry about in terms of pieces that might break off.
No external PSU is needed for the Canon P-215. It can actually take all of its power from a single USB lead, although if you have a second free USB port, you can opt to improve performance by plugging in the extra cable. Visit: Business Advisor.
If there is a complaint about the P-215, it might be that, if anything, it's a little heavier than it looks. At just 1kg though, the Canon P-215 isn't so heavy that it can't be carried for reasonable distances.
The Canon P-215 is apparently designed to take up to 20 pages. This isn't a particularly high capacity for a sheet-fed scanner and, in fact, we'd advise you to put considerably less than that into the paper holder.
The feed looks relatively robust, but in practice it doesn't work as well as on some models we've seen. Getting paper exactly straight is important, and even then, the Canon P-215 frequently sucked in more than one sheet at a time.
Smooth and regular documents like letters tend to pose few problems, but items like pages ripped from a magazine require greater attention. If you'll be looking to work with varied types of source material, be prepared to have to redo some jobs. Recovering jammed paper is relatively easy, and the front pops open at the push of a button. As with many of the lower-end sheet-feds, there's no output tray to catch the scanned sheets, so if you need to keep the source material in good condition, you'll really want to set the Canon P-215 on a smooth table.
The installation routine is a touch confusing. The default option installs only the drivers and the main CaptureOnTouch program. It would be very easy for somebody to set up the Canon P-215 and not realise the disc contained additional programs like BizCard 6 SE and PaperPort 11.
The menu options really ought to be better named too – the 'Default Installation', for instance, should really be captioned 'Drivers and CaptureOnTouch only'. You can install a cut-down version of the main software without needing to use a disc at all. However, the full version has far more features, and is worth exploring.
The software itself is slick and highly usable, and makes it very easy to create complete documents. Searchable PDFs can be created, adding true functionality to the digital versions of your letters.
PaperPort is adequate for organising files, although it's BizCard that really comes into its own, mostly due to the Canon's dedicated business/ID card reader built into the front. This model worked seamlessly with the likes of Google Doc, Evernote and other cloud storage services.
Working the Canon is straightforward. Click the single button and it'll whirr into life. Alternatively, you can access it directly from within the software.
Performance is very decent. In its fastest mode (black & white at a resolution of 150dpi), a 10-page (comprising five sheets) bundle took 26 sec to be scanned and turned into a Searchable PDF.
With colour added, this time went up to a still very decent 37 sec. Only at 300dpi did the speed start to lag, consuming 1 min and 17 sec, while 600dpi required in excess of five minutes.
Operating without the power cable plugged into a second USB port made only a small difference. The colour 150dpi test, for instance, took 40 rather than 37 seconds. Some PC may highlight larger differences, although if you're using a USB 3.0 port, you may see no difference at all when unplugging the power cable.
Overall the speeds are fairly good, especially if you don't need the highest levels of quality. We were very happy with the files produced, and found very few mistakes in the Searchable PDFs. However, if you'll be wanting to go beyond 300dpi then we would recommend you look for a higher end model.