Canon imageFormula P-208 & IRIScan Mouse: Two different approaches to scanning on the move

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We have already published a review of the Canon imageFormula P-208 but I wanted to get some hands-on time with Canon’s nifty little portable scanner. You can read our review, which was published last month, here. The device is on sale for just over £151 at Ebuyer which is a decent price for what is essentially a niche product for some very specific tasks.

Let’s be clear from the onset, for most imaging tasks, you won’t need a dedicated scanner at all. Most mainstream smartphones now come with an 8-megapixel rear camera, which provides with a resolution decent enough to be adequate for standard jobs. The problem here is defining what exactly is adequate.

The target audience of Canon’s P208 will want, for example, to scan credit cards, signatures, invoices fast, do image recognition and possibly convert that image file almost in real time to a searchable document.

The P208 is a portable scanner that comes with true plug-and-play capabilities (the CaptureOnTouch Lite scan utility is built in), fairly robust auto-sheet feed and duplexing capabilities but its main selling point is the fact that it is small, small enough to be shoved in a standard messenger bag and carried around. It’s a shame though that it doesn’t include a built-in battery or an embedded wireless hotspot.

Iris, on the other hand, came up with the IRIScan mouse, one which we reviewed earlier this year as well and can be purchased from £68.50 from Pixmania. It is a wired mouse that can scan as well, very simply and easily. It is very intuitive and is best used for occasional scanning. Image stitching occurs on the fly but you will need to install the software that comes on the bundled disc.

Interestingly, the company, which is behind the popular Readiris OCR software, has been acquired by Canon (via its subsidiary Canon Europa N.V) with the so-called squeeze-out process ending on 25 June 2013, after which, Iris is likely to be absorbed and its portfolio disseminated in Canon Imaging’s department.

What that also means is that a cull will be likely after the buyout as Canon and Iris respective product ranges merge when Canon’s portable scanners (P215, P150, P208) will meet their counterparts (Book 3, Express 3 and Anywhere 3).

The conclusion, if there can be one, is that handheld scanners will need to evolve in order to remain relevant in a market where flatbed scanners have all but disappeared because of multifunction printers and where improving embarked digital photo capabilities in smartphones now shoves a free (or very cheap) portable scanner in your pocket.