Canon PIXMA MX516 inkjet multifunction printer

This mid-range colour inkjet printer has all the bells and whistles

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Canon PIXMA MX516
  • Canon PIXMA MX516
  • Canon PIXMA MX516
  • Canon PIXMA MX516

Pros

  • Solid feature-set for a budget printer
  • Reasonable photo quality

Cons

  • Print speeds aren't excellent
  • Smaller text sizes look slightly blurry
  • High consumable costs

Bottom Line

Canon's mid-range PIXMA MX516 printer is packed full of home-friendly features for its reasonable asking price. Colour graphics and photo quality is good enough for small and A4 prints, and our main gripe of blurry small text shouldn't bother most users.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

Canon's new PIXMA MX516 is an inkjet multifunction printer aimed at home and small business users. It's got a good feature-set for a $139 printer: wireless and wired networking, an automatic document feeder, a fax, and printing from iOS and Android devices.

Canon PIXMA MX516: Design and setup

The PIXMA MX516 is finished in a glossy black. It's a good-looking printer like the rest of Canon's PIXMA range — if you can call a printer good-looking. The glossy sheen does tend to pick up fingerprints and light scratches easily though, so if you're obsessed with keeping your work-space tidy and spotless the MX516 will require constant attention.

The MX516 is logically laid out: a 100-sheet paper cassette that feeds A4/letter/B4/B5 from the printer's front, and printed sheets are sent out onto a tray on top of the cassette. Canon doesn't disclose the capacity of the printed paper tray, but we'd say it's in the order of 50 sheets or so.

Scanning and copying takes place on the top-mounted flatbed scanner, which is a 1200x2400dpi unit that works in tandem with the built-in automatic document feeder.

At the front of the PIXMA MX516, the printer's controls are organised around the 3in colour LCD screen that displays menu and printing information. The controls are straightforward — there are dedicated shortcuts to copy, scan, fax, or print photos from the MX516's inbuilt memory card slots and USB PictBridge port.

Three contextual buttons can be found underneath the LCD screen, and a four-way navigation pad and touch-sensitive keypad are offset to the right of the screen. Further to the right are fax shortcuts and quick colour and monochrome copy buttons.

The controls of the Canon PIXMA MX516 are generally easy to understand, although we would have liked the LCD screen to be a little bigger with slightly smaller fonts, to fit more information and longer function descriptions on-screen.

Setting up the PIXMA MX516 is a simple task: install the black and tri-colour ink cartridges, turn the printer on and insert a supplied sheet of paper for print head calibration. If you're using the printer's USB port to connect directly to a printer, installing the drivers and software is an easy task with the bundled CD.

If you're using a network connection, you'll have to spend a few minutes running through a simple guided setup on the printer itself. We set the PIXMA MX516 up over Wi-Fi on our test network; the printer supports 802.11b/g/n standards and entering our 16-digit WPA2 password took less than a minute.

Canon PIXMA MX516: Print quality and performance

The Canon PIXMA MX516 performed largely as we expected it to. As a mid-range home and small office printer it performs acceptably well, with decent but unspectacular black and text print quality, and similarly decent levels of detail in 6x4in colour and A4 photo prints.

We would happily use the MX516 for printing photos to give out to friends or family — if you've got a reasonable expectation of what a $139 printer can do, you won't be unhappy with the results. The MX516 isn't excellent at colour accuracy but its 4800x2400dpi print head was able to display a decent level of fine image detail in our 6x4in test prints. A4 photo prints take quite a while at the PIXMA MX516's Best quality setting, but have a good level of detail and good colour saturation, albeit with slightly inaccurate colours.

Text print quality is good down to around 10pt size, but we found that at 8pt and 6pt black text on white paper becames progressively blurrier, with a slight bleed at 6pt that made curved letters look fuzzy. Unless you're cramming a year's worth of study notes onto a sheet of paper we don't expect that you'll use these small text sizes often so this is a minor issue. Normal text sizes look good, but don't have the outright clarity that can be found with a laser printer of any price.

The Canon PIXMA MX516 is not a particularly fast printer if you intend to use it in its Normal or Best print quality settings. 6x4in photo prints take over a minute in the Normal setting, and Best bumps that up by a further 30 seconds minimum. A4 photo prints in Best quality take around 4 minutes to complete (with drying time).

Canon quotes the MX516 at 9.7ipm for monochrome A4 documents and 5.5ipm for colour A4 documents, but in the real world our 25-page colour and black-and-white test documents printed at around half this speed in Normal quality: around 5ppm for black and 3ppm for colour. Best quality drops these to 4ppm and 2.3ppm respectively.

The PIXMA MX516 uses PG-640 and CL-641 black and tri-colour ink cartridges, starter kits of which are included with the printer when it's purchased. As with most cheap printers, buying a few ink refills does creep up to near the initial cost of the printer: you'll be paying $25 for the black and $26 for the colour standard-size cartridges at JB Hi-Fi. Larger XL cartridges are $39 for black and $47 for colour.

Canon says the PIXMA MX516 will produce 180 A4 sheets from the standard PG-640 black and 180 A4 sheets from the standard CL-641 colour cartridges: an overall cost of 13.8cents per black page and 14.4cents for colour. Moving up to the 400-sheet XL cartridges lowers the running cost to 9.8cents per black and 11.8cents for colour.

These costs are on the higher end of inkjet consumable prices, but that is the trade-off with buying a printer with a cheap initial cost. More expensive printers can have lower running costs.

Canon PIXMA MX516: Conclusion

The Canon PIXMA MX516 is a cheap inkjet printer that has plenty of features included for a low price. You do pay more than a more initially-expensive printer when it comes to running costs, but if you're not intending to print heaps of photos or documents the MX516 is good value.

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