Canon – PIXMA MX850 review

top-of-the-range SOHO all-in-one printer
Photo of Canon – PIXMA MX850

This is Canon’s top-of-the-range multifunction machine for the SOHO market. The PIXMA MX range differs from the MP range in offering four-colour print, though it provides a separate, pigmented black ink for printing black text, too.

The substantial MX850 – it’s nearly as deep as it is wide – has a built-in Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) which, like the print engine, can operate on both sides of the paper in one job. This means you can perform duplex copying, to produce a two-sided copy of an original, though you’ll have to wait for it.

We believe Canon still has trouble with the drying time of its inks as, every time it prints in duplex mode, it waits nearly 10 seconds between finishing the first side of each page and starting the second. A 20-side black text print job took just under nine minutes to complete and a 20-side copy took the best part of 10 minutes. These times are long enough to make busy people resort to single-sided printing and ignore any resource savings.

The machine itself follows Canon’s usual sleek lines, styled in black and silver and with a comprehensive control panel running nearly the full width of its front. Controls include quick-dial buttons for the built-in fax facility, a number pad for phone dialling, a 62mm LCD display for previewing photos and an easy-to-use navigation ring, though without the supremely ergonomic click-dial of the high-end PIXMA MP machines.

As well as printing, scanning and copying, the MX850 can handle most memory card formats for direct photo printing and has a PictBridge socket if you prefer to connect your camera with a cable. There’s also a facility for direct printing of CDs and DVDs, using a separate holder which slots in once you’ve pulled down a flap inside the all-in-one.

More conventional printing can come from a feed tray at the rear or a cartridge which slides in underneath, both of which can take up to 150 sheets of plain paper or 25 or so photo blanks. Print quality of both plain text and colour graphics is clean with little ink spatter, and photo images, while not as good in the lighter tints as from the six-colour PIXMA MP machines, are perfectly serviceable for day-to-day use.

If you search about for consumables you can find Canon’s original ink cartridges at low prices, giving a cost per page for black print of around 1.8p, with 2.2p for colour. The printer’s heads should last the life of the machine, so cost of ownership should remain low.

Company: Canon

Contact: 0800 787787

Canon's PIXMA MX850 is a well designed machine for somebody who needs the full advantages of a multifunction printer, with photo print, CD/DVD direct print, multiple paper sources and full fax facilities. Its only downside is its inexorably slow duplex printing and copying, which isn't going to endear it to anybody who needs double-sided documents in a hurry.