Multifunction printers are all the rage these days and so Canon has been responding to the surge in demand by producing a number of machines that cater for all budgets and workloads and can still be regarded as eye-catching pieces of furniture. The PIXMA MP490 is towards the cheaper end of the scale, yet still manages to include a broad range of features.
The MP490 is part of a mini-series that all have the same basic design: styled in muted light grey and black tones, with generous curved edges and measuring 450 x 335 x 155mm. Weighing just 5.5kg, it’s light and easy to position and is clearly intended to be a standalone home use all-in-one, as it has limited paper capacity (100 sheets in the fold-out rear tray) and no networking option.
However, it does have a cool, flip-up, 4.5cm TFT colour display which conceals a control panel that contains an economically arranged set of essential command buttons and a circular dial, all of which are clearly labelled and user friendly to operate.
Beneath this section is another flip panel on the front that hides and protects a number of memory card slots which will handle everything from the popular SD Card and xD-PictureCard to the Memory Stick PRO Duo and even the currently-out-of-favour CompactFlash. On the other hand, the absence of a USB slot for flash cards and PictBridge-enabled cameras is surprising.
The PIXMA MP490 has just two ink cartridges that make use of Canon’s patented FINE technology with 4800 x 1200dpi resolution to emphasize detail. Canon has also taken note of the constant criticism of manufacturers grossly inflating speed times in their press releases, as its claimed rates are certainly much closer to reality than many of its competitors.
For instance, the mono print speed is supposed to be 8.4ipm and we managed that at Draft quality, although there was an expected drop to 2ppm at High quality. When it came to photos, a standard 10x15cm print via the PC took just 35 seconds, with the best quality Vivid version managing a respectable 1 minute 20 seconds. A4 photos of standard quality emerged after 1 minute 35 seconds, while the best Vivid option extended the time to 3 minutes 50 seconds.
What was noticeable in all the photos, though, was that they were markedly darker than the originals. The A4 quality was much better using a memory card, with clearer definition and vibrant colours. What was less anticipated was that scanned copies came out with superior detail, yet with an unwanted yellow wash.
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