Review: Canon ImageFORMULA P-150M Personal Document S

The ImageFORMULA P-150Mis a compact USB powered scanner. (July 27th, 2011)

The ImageFORMULA P-150M, also called the Scan-tini, is a compact USB powered scanner. This flexible portable functions includes robust software with a surprising array of functions.

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Product Manufacturer: Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Price: $$295 US

The Good

  • Fast and versatile.
  • The ability to scan from any computer without installed software.
  • USB Powered.
  • Ability to create complete workflows.
  • Portable.

The Bad

  • Poor black and white scans.
  • You need to change the driver settings for the best quality.
  • Deskew unreliable.
  • Expensive.

If you want to neatly manage years of papers that have filled up endless file folders and filing cabinets the Canon Image FORMULA P-150M duplex personal document scanner definitely deserves your consideration. It is an impressive piece of hardware that helped me trash over one hundred fat file folders of financial paperwork.

The ImageFORMULA P-150M, also called the Scan-tini, is a compact USB powered scanner that measures 1.6" x 11" x 3.7" with the Feeder Tray closed. A questionably useful AC Adapter is sold as an accessory. As I studied the manual, which you need to read to get the most of the scanner, I was amazed at the P-150M's flexibility and functions. Some of the built in features include: • Auto Color Detection
• Ability to Scan to PDF, TIFF or JPEG formats
• Auto Page Size Detection
• Deskew
• Prescan
• 20-Page Document Feeder
• Blank Page Skipping
• Duplex Scanning

Open Canon ImageFORMULA P-150M

Open Canon ImageFORMULA P-150M


The nicest feature of this 2.1 pound Scan-tini is the built in driver software, which allows you to plug it into the USB port of any Mac. A 14.4 MB virtual disk mounts on the desktop that contains a light version of Canon's CaptureOnTouch software. It lets you scan as a PDF, TIFF, or JPEG file. You also have the ability to change the settings including color detection, dpi (dots per inch), and duplexing. You can buy an optional case that makes it convenient to take it anywhere.

 Closed Canon ImageFORMULA P-150M

Closed Canon ImageFORMULA P-150M


CaptureOnTouch Software

When you install the included full CaptureOnTouch software, the versatility of the P-150M becomes apparent. In its simplest mode, called Scan First, you can save the scan to a file, attach it to an email, have it print to your default printer, or send the scanned output to an application. The Scanner Settings in this mode lets you change a great number of settings. You can set the Scan-tini to 24-bit color, eight-bit grayscale, black and white, or Auto Detect, which decides if the scan should be black and white or color. You can set the resolution to 150, 200, 300, 400, or 600 dpi. You can also set whether to scan in Simplex, Duplex, or to Skip Blank Pages. You can straighten out pages that weren't inserted properly with Deskew, auto detect whether the page should be landscape or portrait with Text Orientation, and adjust the brightness and contrast of the scan.

Scan First

Scan First Mode


The P-150M can scan to Evernote, which comes on the included disk. Other software on the disk includes Presto! PageManager 9 SE, a document management and sharing program, and Presto! BizCard 5, a business card management application.

The CaptureOnTouch software lets you scan to any application that can handle a PDF, TIFF or JPEG file. You also can assign buttons to scan to the application of your choice.

 Scanner Settings

Assign Scan Buttons to Applications


If you use the more versatile Select Scan Job tab, it lets you create up to ten jobs that are complete workflows. Evernote is preset, but I had no problem creating a job that scanned at 400 dpi in 24-bit color. This job also skipped blank pages, detected the page orientation, and sent the scan as a TIFF file to Photoshop Elements with a push of the configurable button on the top of the scanner. That was quite impressive and speaks highly to the flexibility of the scanner.

Output Options for Scan

Output Options for Scan Job


In my tests I found the majority of functions worked as advertised. Digging deeper into its capabilities, I found a number of poor default setting decisions, which I fixed by tinkering with the software settings. In my opinion, the default 200 dpi settings are just wrong. Until I reset it to 300 dpi, the scans came out slightly distorted and not up to snuff. The weakest link was scanning in black and white, which produced blocky looking scans.

 Scanner Settings

Scanner Settings


Optional A/C Adapter

I can confirm Canon's claim that the P-150M can scan 15 double-sided pages per minute. In fact, it only took forty-eight seconds when I scanned at 150 dpi in black and white, but the quality of the scans was abysmal. I used the A/C adapter in this test, which is supposed to speed up printing. Yet, without the AC adapter it took only 8 seconds more to scan the same fifteen pages in grayscale at 200 dpi or 300 dpi. The latter looked very good and still came in at under a minute. I don't think that that the optional A/C adapter is worth the $35 price tag. The only difference in scanning without it is a fraction of a second stutter every few pages using USB power.

Auto Color Detect

When I set the scanner to either Auto Color Detect or 24-bit color and scanned ten double-sided pages, both jobs took one minute and thirty seconds. The difference is that Auto Color Detect gives you either black and white or 24-bit color. I consider black and white unacceptable, so if it takes no longer, I recommend you always use 24-bit Color and forget about Auto Color Detect when using a mixed batch of color and monochrome pages. I also noticed that setting which side of the page to scan between Duplex and Skip blank page took exactly the same amount of time. So, I recommend, if you acquire the device, is to go into advanced settings and reset it from its default to: Auto Size Detect, 300dpi, 24-bit Color and Skip blank page. If the P-150M were shipped that way, you would get far better scans right out of the box. Of course if your job includes no color, just change 24-bit color to grayscale and you'll pick up considerable speed.

Deskew

I found that the Deskew option was unreliable. Usually it worked acceptably, but occasionally the skewing was so marked that I had to rescan. The document feeder is rated for 20 pages, but fits 30 pages-if the pages are pristine. Every so often, especially with previously folded pages, two pages feed together. I don't consider this a major flaw, because fanning the pages corrects this problem every time.

One Software Conflict

If you plug the Scan-tini into a Mac without the CaptureOnTouch software installed but, you do have MacPaw's CleanMyMacsoftware http://macpaw.com/, you'll encounter a conflict when the virtual disk mounts. This is not Canon's fault but one caused by CleanMyMac. The solution is to go into the CleanMyMac preferences, choose the Devices tab and uncheck everything. That will get you back in business.

Recommended

I highly recommend the Canon ImageFORMULA P-150 with few reservations after you configure it properly. The scans are fast and accurate. I tried a 600 dpi 24-bit color scan of a rainbow filled sky, sent it to Photoshop Elements, and the colors came out true and accurate. To date, I've scanned over 2,700 pages and am pleased with the results. I'm also happy about getting my office back from under mountains of paper with a scanner that's perfectly portable. Even though this scanner is not inexpensive, I think you will agree that it's a well-made versatile scanner. (Note: The software was tested in Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard for this review.)

Other Portable Scanner Reviews

ScanSnap S1300 Color Personal Scanner - (February 15th, 2011)

NeatReceipts for Mac Mobile Scanner - (August 9th, 2009)

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by David Winograd


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