One of the joys of market competition is that the more there is, the more prices are driven down for consumers, and nowhere has that been more evident in the last couple of years than in the IT industry. Cameras, laptops, monitors and printers are now highly affordable and Canon’s latest PIXMA is a classic illustration of this: a 4-in-1 printer (print, scan, copy and fax) for well under £100.
Like many of the recent PIXMA machines, the compact MX340 is attractively styled in cream and black, and with the in and out trays closed it won’t take up much space on a cabinet, measuring 458 x 415 x 198mm and weighing around 8.6kg, which certainly won’t put your back out when lifting it into position.
This is clearly intended to be a small business, light use printer for offices that don’t need to produce large volumes of documents. On the top there’s a useful automatic document feeder that holds up to 30 sheets and the main input tray at the back holds a maximum of 100 sheets. The control panel below the ADF has large, clearly labelled buttons and printing instructions can be issued directly, via the mono, two-line LCD menus or by means of the supplied software on your PC.
Although there’s no media card reader, a USB 2.0 port is supplied beside the output tray for servicing flash cards or PictBridge camera transfers. Perhaps surprisingly for this price bracket, the MX340 has Wi-Fi as well as an Ethernet connection, though setting up the Wi-Fi link requires a LAN cable to get you started. The manual comes as a hard copy and is also included on the supplied installation disk together with Canon’s regular set of MP Navigator and Easy-PhotoPrint software.
When it comes to print speed, Canon’s claims are more accurate than most. Black text documents of Draft quality managed 7ppm (compared to the claimed 8.4ppm), though this drops to 2ppm at High quality. 10 x 15cm photos emerged spot-on the suggested 43 seconds and even the Best quality achieved a respectable 1 minute 20 seconds. A4 sized photos took just 1 minute 50 seconds at the Standard level, rising to 3 minutes 35 seconds at Best, and A4 copies zoomed out in 55 seconds.
While the MX340′s performance overall is impressive (the highest resolution is 4800 x 1200dpi), ink usage and print quality are far less spectacular. Unlike many other All-in-Ones, there are only two ink cartridges: black, which is pigment based, and a dye based colour cartridge which combines colours to produce black on non-text output.
Black text documents are clear, sharp and bold but photos have a distinctly yellow hue and copies come out noticeably darker than the originals. Also, the supplied black cartridge only has a 220 page life, and the colour 244 pages, so you’ll probably have to invest in more expensive high-yield alternatives.
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