I've been using a Canon P-150 document scanner for a couple of years now to go paperless. I've written about the process before and it's working very well for me.
In January this year, Canon introduced the WU10 WiFi adapter for the P-series scanners, along with an iOS app called Canon Capture On Touch Mobile. I couldn't find any reviews on the web, so I decided to take the plunge and buy one. Here's my take.
What It Is
The WU10 is a wifi bridge to control the Canon P-series desktop scanners. I have the P-150, now discontinued, and the WU10 also works with the current P-215 and P-208 Mobile scanners.
The WU10 is a plastic box with a USB socket and a power plug. You connect it to power and plug the scanner into the box over USB. The WU10 also contains a rechargeable battery which is charged by the mains cord but which can also power the unit itself and the scanner for mobile operation.
The WU10 has two modes of wifi operation: it can connect to your existing wifi network, or it can become its own hotspot for ad-hoc operation. The wifi mode is selected by a switch on the side of the box and you have to restart the unit before it will change modes.
To set the device up, you start it in ad-hoc mode and connect to its SSID. From there, you can connect to a web-based configuration portal on the device via its IP address and enter the SSID and password for your existing WiFi network. Switch modes, restart the device and it's on your network and ready to scan. The configuration portal supports five different WiFi network setups so you can set it up for home and work. In the portal, you can also configure WiFi settings for the device's own hotspot, including 2.4GHz channels, 20/40MHz channels and change the SSID and key that it uses.
Once you've set up the device on your network, you can immediately scan from the iOS apps - more on that later. The Mac software "CaptureOnTouch" that came with the scanner is not included or updated with the WU10. Instead, you get an additional tool called "Scanner Wireless Connection Utility" which, as far as I can tell, tricks CaptureOnTouch into thinking the scanner has been connected over USB.
To scan though the WU10 from the Mac you have to first open the Wireless Connection Utility and 'connect' the scanner over the network. At this point, CaptureOnTouch wakes up just as it would if the scanner were connected directly. It's a small inconvenience but not really any more annoying than fishing around for the USB cable at the back of your desk.
One of the main reasons for getting the WU10 is that it enables scanning directly from iOS. Canon have an app named "CaptureOnTouch Mobile" that's universal for iPhones and iPads. Although the visual design of the app is not particularly to my taste, it works really well and does exactly what you'd hope it does: you can pick a few settings, scan a document and you open it in another app. What more do you want?
CaptureOnTouch Mobile doesn't have all the settings of the Mac version, but it has more than enough to be useful. You can:
- Choose the scanner, in case you have multiple WU10s on your network.
- Choose colour or grayscale scanning.
- Choose between Letter, A4 and auto-detect paper size.
- Choose 150dpi or 300dpi resolution
- Choose simplex, duplex or "skip blank page" scanning - the latter meaning "capture both sides and throw any blank sides away"
…and then there's a big "Scan" button, which makes it all happen.
As the document scans, you get a preview on the iPad screen and you can swipe through the pages. You also have the option of deleting individual pages from the preview if you get a mis-scan.
Once the scan is complete, you have the option of sending the document as JPEG to the Camera Roll or as PDF to another app via "Open In…". Both formats can also be emailed.
And that's really all there is to say about the Canon WU10. I'm really quite delighted with it. The app does everything it needs to do and, crucially, doesn't try to do anything more. It just scans and hands off a PDF to whatever app works for you. For me, naturally, it's usually Evernote but you can go to any app that handles PDF, such as iBooks, Explain Everything, Dropbox or a dedicated PDF app like PDF Expert.
More broadly, I find the WU10 interesting as it represents yet another step along the road of iOS doing the things that people said iOS would "never" do. You can't scan without a USB socket on board, right? Wrong.