Canon Color imageClass MF8280Cw review

The Canon Color imageClass MF8280Cw color laser MFP offers all the right features for a micro or home office.

Superficially similar to the Canon Color imageClass MF8080Cw that it’s in the process of replacing in Canon’s line, the Canon Color imageClass MF8280Cw is meant for light-duty printing in a micro, home, or small office or as a personal printer in any size office. It offers essentially the same MFP features as the MF8080Cw, but with faster speed and notably better output quality. The combination makes it a much improved printer, and a more than reasonable choice.

As with the MF8080Cw, the MF8280Cw offers largely the same MFP features as the Editors’ Choice Dell 1355cnw Multifunction Color Printer, which Dell has discontinued, but is still available online at this writing. It can print and fax from as well as scan to a PC, including over a network; it can serve as a standalone fax machine and color copier; and it can scan to or print from a USB memory key. One addition is greater mobile printing capability, with support for Google Cloud Print and for printing from iThings over a Wi-Fi access point.

The printer’s paper handling, with a 150-sheet input tray, no duplexer, and no upgrade options, effectively defines the MF8280Cw as appropriate for light-duty use only. The 150-sheet capacity should be enough for most small offices, with the single-sheet manual feed serving as a useful convenience. If you print more than about 30 pages per day, however, including copies and incoming faxes, having to constantly refill the paper tray may quickly turn into an annoying chore.

For scanning, the MF8280Cw supplements its letter-size flatbed with a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF), which can handle legal-size pages as well as multipage documents.

Setup and Speed
The MF8280Cw measures 16.9 by 17.0 by 19.1 inches, and it weighs enough, at 57.3 pounds, that most people will want some help moving it into place. That translates to being surprisingly big and heavy by today’s standards for the features it offers, particularly considering the limited paper handling. Assuming you have enough room for it, however, setup is typical for the breed.

In addition to a USB port, the MF8280Cw supports both Wi-Fi and wired network connections. For my tests, I connected it by its Ethernet port and installed the driver on a Windows Vista system.

Canon rates the printer at 14 pages per minute (ppm) for both monochrome and color, which is the speed you should see when printing text files with little to no formatting. I clocked it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 4.3 ppm, which is an appropriate speed for the rating. It’s also a bit faster than the MF8080Cw, at 3.7 ppm, and essentially tied with the Dell 1355cnw, at 4.5 ppm. However, it’s significantly slower than the inkjet Editors’ Choice HP Officejet Pro 276dw MFP, at 5.9 ppm.

Output Quality and Other Issues
Output quality is a strong point for the printer, with text, graphics, and photo quality all solidly par or above. Text is at the high end of the range where the vast majority of color laser MFPs fall, making it easily good enough for any business use, unless you have both an unusual need for small fonts and a highly critical eye.

Graphics output, similarly, is easily good enough for any business need, including output going to an important client or customer when it’s important for the output to look fully professional. Depending on your level of perfectionism, you may also consider it good enough for DYI marketing materials, like one-page handouts or mailers. The printer has a tendency to lose thin lines, but most printers do far worse.

Photo output is about as close as you can get to true photo quality while printing on plain paper, which puts the output close to the best available for a color laser MFP. Mount the photos in a frame behind glass, and you’d have to take a close look to tell that they aren’t true photo quality. They’re certainly good enough for printing photos in one page handouts and the like.

One potential issue that demands mention is the MF8280Cw’s high running cost, at 3.6 cents for a mono page and 20.6 cents for a color page. This may not matter if you print few enough pages, or if the high quality is more important to you than the cost per page. However, you should at least be aware of the running cost, and take it into account, before you buy the printer.

It would be easier to give this printer a glowing recommendation if it were smaller, had a higher paper capacity, or had a lower cost per page. Even as it stands, however, it offers a lot to like, with high-quality output and a full set of MFP features.

If you’re looking for a color MFP for light-duty printing, along with scanning, copying, and faxing, and you must have high-quality output, the Canon Color imageClass MF8280Cw can easily be not just a reasonable choice, but the right choice for your needs.

Specifications
Standalone Copier and Fax Copier, Fax
Printer Category Laser
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 14 ppm
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color) 14 ppm
Color or Monochrome 1-pass color
Print Duplexing No
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Type All-In-One
Technology (for laser category only) Laser
Connection Type USB, Ethernet, Wireless

Verdict
The Canon Color imageClass MF8280Cw is big and heavy, but it delivers the right mix of MFP and printer features for a single user or for light-duty printing in a small office.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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