I’m branching out a bit to do some hardware product reviews, as I’ve been trying things to address some tasks that I need to do in my business. Document scanning is a big issue, for a variety of reasons, so this week I’m talking about the Canon ImageFormula P-150 document scanner. This is a “personal” scanner, very well suited for low volume on your desktop OR while traveling.
There are many different types of scanners on the market. Which you should choose depends on many factors. How many people will use it? How many pages will you scan? Where will you use it? What are you trying to accomplish with scanning? Here is where I think the Canon ImageFormula P-150 fits in:
- It is a personal scanner – designed for relatively low volume for one person on your desk.
- It is a portable lightweight scanner that you can easily fit into a briefcase to take with you on the road.
- It integrates with the QuickBooks Doc Center (document management).
- It is low cost, but it provides a wide range of very sophisticated image processing features. The MSRP is $295.00.
- It is closely integrated with a check scanning system.
If you are looking for a scanner for an office where multiple people are scanning items, or you are scanning a high volume of pages, this isn’t the scanner you want. However, it shines when you look at personal or portable scanning situations.
Compact, Simple To Use Scanning
Do you need to bring a scanner with you while traveling or visiting a client? Do you have limited space on your desk? This is a very powerful scanner in an incredibly small package.
Folded up it is just 11” long, 3.7” deep and 1.6” tall. When you are ready to use it, the top folds out and provides you with a sheet feeder that can hold up to 20 pages. This is a duplexing scanner that can handle both sides of the page in one pass.
It doesn’t require a bulky, inconvenient power supply (although you can get one for it) – it can be entirely powered from a USB port on your computer. If you have TWO USB ports you can increase the scanning speed up to 15 ppm (up to 12 ppm with one USB port). Even with one USB connection the speed is adequate for low volume uses.
For basic scanning to a file this is the easiest scanner to set up. Plug in the USB cable to your computer, the base USB driver installs automatically. Unfold the lid and your Windows computer will automatically start the “Lite” version of the scanning software.
This is the simplest, easiest scanner that I’ve worked with. I had it working in just a few minutes after opening the box, without any complicated installation steps.
Canon has packed a lot of features into the scanner.
I like how they show you the current settings right on the screen in the “start scan” window. It is easy to change the settings just by clicking the scanner settings button there. Lots of options, very easy to understand. Some advanced features that are very useful are the ability to skip blank pages (important, as this is a duplex scanner taking both sides of the document) and the “Deskew” feature that straightens pages that might scan at a bit of an angle. I found this useful, as I have a number of smaller documents that have wrinkles and tears and they don’t always scan straight (even with more expensive scanners). The Deskew option worked VERY well.
There are two software products available for your basic scanning. The built-in software is CaptureOnTouch Lite, which installs automatically when you plug in the USB port. This provides you with:
- Auto paper size detection
- Auto color detection (switches to black/white automatically to make smaller files)
- Double feed detection by length
- Skip blank page
- Continuous scanning
- Scan area setting.
A CD is provided that has additional software, and one of the products is the full version of CaptureOnTouch. In addition to the features above, it includes:
- Color dropout (removes background color images that might cloud the scanned image)
- Color enhancement (pulls out red stamps, signatures that might be hidden)
- Text enhancement (helps pull out text if you have some text in a very light font)
- Preset Gamma Curve
- Prevent bleed through
- Remove background
- Moiré’ reduction
- Edge enhancement
If you are using the scanner on your desktop you want to use the full version of the software so that you can take advantage of the very sophisticated image improvement features that Canon provides.
Let’s talk about the software that comes with this product, as well as other options that will work with it.
- This scanner includes a TWAIN driver. This is very important – it is an industry standard driver that lets you use this scanner with many software products. A good example is the QuickBooks Attached Documents and Doc Center features – you can use the Canon P-150 to attach documents to transactions and list items in QuickBooks (free in QuickBooks 2012). Without a TWAIN driver, the scanner can’t work directly with QuickBooks for document management.
- I already mentioned the CaptureOnTouch software above – both the full version and the Lite version. Note that the Lite version will only scan to a file – the full version lets you scan to a folder, email attachment, printer or other application.
- The scanner comes with a copy of Presto Biz Card 5, a product that lets you scan business cards into a searchable database (many scanners include this kind of application).
- You also get a copy of Nuance PaperPort 11, which allows you to store images into a Microsoft SharePoint Server site.
Software That Works With the Canon P-150
The top scanner manufacturers work hard to find special arrangements with top software products. Here are a few that work with the Canon P-150:
- As I mentioned above, since the scanner has a TWAIN driver this will work with QuickBooks Attached Documents and Doc Center.
- Deposit Now is very intriguing – at the time I’m writing this I haven’t been able to use it (it takes a few days to set up an account). This provides you with the ability to scan checks and have them deposited in your bank account without leaving your office. This integrates with QuickBooks as well. This product was a Sleeter Group Awesome Add-on winner for 2007 and now it works closely with the Canon scanner. There are several links on their web site that relate to the Canon product, please look closely at the fees that are associated with each. There is a free trial offer (www.depositnow.com/freetrial).
- If you like Evernote (Mac users will know about this more so than PC users) you can scan your documents into your Evernote account and have them available from any computer or smart phone (http://go.evernote.com/canon).
Is It Perfect?
Well, no, it isn’t perfect, but keep in mind that this fits a particular niche. You aren’t going to use this for a high volume scanning, or in an office where you share a scanner. If you need something compact for your desk, or while at a client site, this has a lot of great features.
I did have some problems with the Lite version of the software on my Windows 7 system. When I opened up the scanner it didn’t automatically start the software. I had to go to Windows Explorer and “run” the software.
This is something that you can change in Windows 7 by tweaking your system to make the “autorun” feature work properly (but I’m still working on that…).
Another issue I ran into, but that would go away once you got used to the system, is that you must remember to “save” your file BEFORE you close up the scanner. Once you close it, you will lose the scan that hasn’t been saved. Not a big problem once you get used to it.
The only thing that was really annoying had to do with the Auto Start feature and the TWAIN driver. If you install the TWAIN driver so you can use this with QuickBooks you have to disable the Auto Start feature. This is a minor inconvenience if you are using the scanner both for QuickBooks and regular scanning – you then have to install the full version of the scanning software and run the program to start the scan.
I like this scanner for what it is designed for, low volume desktop or portable scanning. If you are traveling to a client’s site and find that you need to scan documents so you can bring them back to the office, this is a great option. It is compact, it works just from a USB port for BOTH power and data, it scans both sides of the document in one pass, it has exceptional scanning quality and image processing. I don’t think you’ll find anything that does this better.
If you have very limited desktop space (I won’t show you a photo of my desktop…) then this works very well. Small space, has a doc feeder, doesn’t require yet another dongle plugged into the power strip (I really like that!).
See the Canon P-150 at The Sleeter Group’s 2011 Accounting Solutions Conference.