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Canon Pixma MX870 Review

Updated on November 12, 2010

The Pixma MX870 is the flagship model among three new all-in-one printers from Canon. It is a more office-orientated, pumped up version of the MP640 with added fax functionality and a 35-sheet auto document feeder. Although it is aimed squarely at the small business market, quirky processing breaks slow down the machine’s performance enough to make it a poor choice for impatient businesspeople.

Canon makes use of a graphite and silver colour scheme which along with its substantial stature makes lesser printers look like toys. The solid build impresses but won’t distract you from a glaringly odd design move. The placement of the LCD screen and controls look so well-placed until you open the lid to do some copying or scanning. The lid makes up a good third of the entire device which seems unnecessarily clunky, especially in comparison to the Epson WorkForce series. Attractive designs often compromise functionality and the MX870 unfortunately falls into this trap.

The unit comes out of the box fully assembled, with nothing to meddle with bar the print head and five ink cartridges. Like all current ink jet AIO printers from Canon each colour is extracted from a separate tank. The exception is black. One black cartridge is for printing plain text while the other is designated for producing half tones in photos or graphics.

There are 32 spread out but well-organized buttons on the front panel. Here you will find the common one-touch access to copy, fax, scan and card mode. To the right of the 2.5” colour LCD is a five-way jog switch plus wheel that allows you to select items on the screen and sift through digital photos. The jog switch is very sensitive to the touch which might annoy some users. It’s common to stumble onto the wrong option or highlight the wrong line of text. Only a handful of the buttons are illuminated which shouldn’t pose a problem since the white type and graphical icons are easy to read. Those that avoid user manuals like the plague will appreciate the tool tip descriptions that walk you through the menus. It’s easy to learn of the ropes of using the MX870 as options are laid out in an intuitive manner.

Under the Wi-Fi light, which lights up when a wireless connection is established, is a compartment that hides the SD, CompactFlash, and Memory Stick card slots. You also have the option of connecting directly to your camera via a USB cable. The PictBridge USB port might be awkward to access depending on how you have it positioned as it is located right at the bottom edge of the device.

Canon has made software installation quicker than setup with the MX860. The wizard steps you through connecting the phone line, powering up, installing the print head and cartridges, inserting paper, setting up fax reception, and selecting the data connection type. You can choose from Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 or Ethernet for connecting to existing network infrastructures. After a quick restart you’ll have one-click access to a variety of tasks thanks to the Solution Menu.

The print quality is very similar to that of the model it replaced, the MX860. Other than the richer blacks and slightly darker colours, it is tough to see much of a difference. Text quality is impressively sharp for an ink jet, with no spray droplets in sight. Although rich and detailed, photos may look a touch contrasty for some people’s tastes. Canon is going for wow factor by artificially hyping photos so they pop off the page more easily.

Processing speed is disappointing and it makes this otherwise solid unit a less attractive buy. The intermittent lagging causes otherwise decent printing speeds to suffer. It performed much slower than Epson’s Workforce 600 in printing tests. Scanning speed is on par with that of the Epson.

Canon Pixma MX870 Review Verdict

The stylish MX870 offers a lot for the money but not enough to overcome its speed issues. Business owners that need quick hard copies on demand might find themselves frustrated beyond belief.

The design is rugged but suffers from the chunkiness of the lid. Canon expended too much energy on achieving good looks and not enough on usability. You could do a lot worse than the MX870. However, why would you when the excellent Workforce 600 can be had for around the same price.

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