The new Canon PIXMA MP495 is a very smart-looking machine in what is increasingly becoming the chic shade of the moment – shiny piano black. It’s a very compact all-in-one offering print, copy and scan functions, and weighing in at a not inconsiderable 5.6kg. It has luscious smooth curves, is a perfect size for home office or small business use – and with a price of £59 from some online stores, it could just make the perfect entry-level multifunction printer (MFP).
But before you start reaching for your debit card, you’ll have to decide what printer features are total must-haves for you. If the most you’ll want to print in one go is 100 sheets, you can breathe a sigh of relief because the fold-out back tray holds exactly that amount. If you want an output tray that stays neatly folded away until you start to print and then automatically opens itself, then that’s what you have here.
However, if you regard a USB port at the front of the machine as essential for connecting PictBridge-enabled cameras and flash cards, then you’ll have to look elsewhere. Again, if you’re hoping to print loads of photos directly from an SD memory card, then you’ll be disappointed. The MP495 offers no memory card slots at all. Even though this is designed as an absolutely basic all-in-one, these two features are almost universally available on all modern printers – so they’re are surprising omissions.
On the plus side, though, is the ability to establish Wi-Fi connection, which you certainly don’t expect to find on many an entry-level MFP. While this is an extremely welcome feature, you’ll still need a USB cable to fully complete the setup, and the instructions are by no means easy to follow if this is your first introduction to wireless.
Equally, if you’re used to organising your printing via an LCD menu, then instead you’ll have to make do with a tiny display that offers either single print numbers or cryptic symbols for various maintenance functions that can only be deciphered via the manual on the enclosed DVD. Only very simple copy, print and scan functions can be performed via the (large and well-labelled) control buttons – most of the time, you’ll have to rely on the supplied Solution Menu EX software.
Print speeds are always important, and in this area you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Black text documents emerged at around 8ppm whether in draft or standard quality, while A4 colour prints took 2min 25s each. 10x15cm prints came out in a relatively nippy 55s.
A4 colour copies were output after 1min 45s, but while the colours reproduced were relatively authentic (if a bit flat), copies were subject to noticeable banding and streaking. This was echoed in photo scans. Documents on the other hand fared much better, with letters unbroken and bold.
The other vital issue to consider when choosing a printer is running costs – chief among them being ink usage. Canon has opted for a two-cartridge system rather than splitting the colours into separate units. This wastes ink, because it means that as soon as one of the cyan, magenta or yellow inks has run out, you have to throw away the whole of the tri-colour cartridge – even if there’s some of the other inks left.
In terms of yield, Canon claims you can expect 220 pages from the supplied black ink tank, and 244 from the colour.
Contact: 01737 220000