capsule review

Canon imageFormula P-150

At a Glance
  • Canon imageFORMULA P-150

    Macworld Rating

The Canon imageFormula P-150M is a 600 dpi, portable, USB bus-powered document scanner also known as the Scan-tini. But don’t let its cute nickname fool you; this compact document scanner has some impressive specs and a couple of novel—and useful—tricks up its sleeve.

While not as tiny as the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 ( ), the 2.2-pound, piano-black Scan-tini measures 11-by-2-by-4 inches when packed for traveling. To use the Scan-tini, you simply press the button on the top front of the scanner and unfold the hinged lid and paper guides.

The Scan-tini operates on USB bus power. It worked fine using just the data cable on both our iMac test computer and a 15-inch 2010 MacBook Pro, but Canon provides a second USB power cable connector in case your system doesn’t supply enough juice to run the scanner. An external power adapter ($35) is sold separately.

When you connect the Scan-tini to your Mac, a drive icon mounts on your desktop. This small, 14.4MB volume holds a stripped-down version of Canon’s CaptureOnTouch Lite software. Canon calls this feature “Plug and Scan” and it means that you don’t have to install any drivers or software on your Mac to perform basic scanning tasks. If you want to use OCR to create text-editable versions of your hard copy documents or make searchable PDFs, you’ll want to install the full version of CaptureOnTouch, as well as the TWAIN driver and bundled Presto PageManager 9 SE and Presto BizCard 5 software supplied on CD.

The Scan-tini is a duplex scanner, meaning it can capture both sides of a sheet of paper in a single pass. It has a 20-sheet automatic document feeder that makes scanning multi-page documents a breeze.

Scanning options include black and white, 8-bit grayscale, and 24-bit color scans saved as JPEG, TIFF or PDF. The installed version of the CaptureOnTouch software offers five presets to save scans to iPhoto, to the Evernote cloud service, email, and more. Five additional empty presets are available to create custom workflows; for example, you can create a workflow that performs a single-sided scan at 300 dpi that saves files as grayscale PDFs and opens them in Apple’s Preview software.

Since the Scan-tini comes with a TWAIN driver, you can acquire scans from within TWAIN-compliant applications, such as PageManager 9 and BizCard 5. Many recent scanners we’ve tested are not TWAIN compliant and require you to scan first and then import the scans into an application like PageManager if you want to use OCR.

The Scan-tini’s marketing materials boast maximum scan speeds of up to 10 pages (or 20 images in duplex mode) per minute. And while our test results usually don’t come close to matching those kind of claims, the P-150 took just 59 seconds to scan a 10-page double sided text document to grayscale PDF at 300 dpi.

I found that test scans using the default quality settings resulted in poor quality OCR documents. Cranking up the resolution from 200 to 300 dpi and changing from black and white to 8-bit grayscale helped immensely. On the other hand, photos scanned to iPhoto using CaptureOnTouch’s default color JPEG settings looked good and took just 18 seconds to scan. Scanning the photo at 600 dpi took three times as long, but the resulting file was of very good quality, and the best quality I’ve seen from a portable document scanner.

Macworld’s buying advice

If you’re in the market for a portable USB document scanner, or just one that requires minimal desktop space, the Canon imageFormula P-150M should definitely be on your short list. With its duplex scanning capabilities, small size and plug and scan features, the Scan-tini is kind of a big deal.

James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • USB bus-powered
    • No Mac driver installation required
    • Double-sided scans

    Cons

    • Scan setting tweaks required for best OCR performance
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