Canon PIXMA MX850

Good choice for a small/home office

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Canon Pixma MX850
  • Canon Pixma MX850
  • Canon Pixma MX850
  • Canon Pixma MX850

Pros

  • Excellent print quality and speed

Cons

  • Scanner quality isn't great

Bottom Line

Canon touts the Canon Pixma MX850 as a multifunction powerhouse, and it's worthy of such a description. On top of being fast, easy to use, and excellent at outputting documents and photos, the MX850 includes features such as a duplexer and an automatic document feeder — making it an office-friendly printer. Despite its less-than-impressive scanner output, the Pixma MX850 is a stellar choice.

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The Canon Pixma MX850 is Canon's all-in-one scanner, copier, fax machine, and inkjet printer built for the small office or home office.

The Canon Pixma MX850 prints impressively crisp, legible text that's comparable to laser quality. Add to that speedy performance, solid print results, and extra perks, and you have a superb multifunction printer.

The MX850 is a bit bulky, at 14kg, but it sets up in a snap. The Canon Pixma MX850's printer uses a five-colour ink system, which includes the four traditional dye-based colours (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and a special pigment-based black to achieve exceptional clarity. After assembling the print head and inserting the ink cartridges, you connect the device to your PC via USB 2.0 or Ethernet and install the software drivers.

Copying, scanning, faxing and photo printing are accessible through the Canon Pixma MX850's button-control panel, and menus are intuitive and easy to read on the printer's 2.5in LCD. The photo-card reader, located behind a convenient door on the right side of the printer, supports the most commonly used memory cards used by digital cameras.

Since you can use most of the Canon Pixma MX850's features via the Control Panel, you'll most likely be using the device with your PC only when printing documents or scanning media, which the MX850 handles very well. Canon's software for both printing and scanning is very straightforward and works smoothly with both Windows (2000/XP/Vista) and Apple's Mac OS X (10.3.9+).

We like that the Canon Pixma MX850's scanner driver provides advanced image options, offering flexible control over scans.

Copying on the Canon Pixma MX850 is a pleasantly problem-free experience, especially when using the built-in automatic document feeder. Two large buttons allow you to choose between black-and-white or colour copying; you use the arrow buttons for setting the number of copies and the copy quality.

The Canon Pixma MX850 turned in exceptional text-printing results. In our tests, the printer's text appeared as crisp and legible as you could ever expect from an ink-jet printer. Photo prints were similarly impressive. Our test print of a picnic scene looked brighter and redder than our control photo, but overall it looked very clean and pleasing.

When we tested the Canon Pixma MX850's copier, it did a good job reproducing colours and it captured surprisingly fine details.

Our jury found the scan quality to be the least impressive of the Canon Pixma MX850's output capabilities. In our test scan of a photo, reds looked muted, and some bright colours appeared intensified. We also tested the scanner's clarity by scanning a line chart, and the lines were noticeably jagged and poorly distinguished.

In a busy office environment, a printer's speed is as important as its quality. The Canon Pixma MX850 turned in very fast results. In our testing over a USB 2.0 connection, the Pixma MX850 took 1min 17sec to print a 10-page Word document, 16sec to print a one-page Word document, 1min 26sec to print a four-page PDF, and 59sec to print a 22MB Photoshop image. The Canon Pixma MX850's scanner was also very speedy, taking 28sec to scan an 8x10in photo at 600 dots per inch (dpi), and 37 seconds to scan a 4x6in photo at 1200dpi.

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