Canon PIXMA MP550 inkjet multifunction printer
Canon's mid-range PIXMA office and photo printer handles both text and full-colour images well
The Canon PIXMA MP550 is an inkjet multifunction printer that’s designed for home users. It's more than twice as expensive as the entry-level PIXMA MP270, which also includes scanning and copying abilities. However, it offers noticeably superior photo printing, a better scanner and a more intuitive (yet still imperfect) interface.
- Good quality photo prints, fast image scanning
- Small colour screen not good for reviewing photos
Canon's PIXMA MP550 is a well-designed inkjet multifunction printer with only a few flaws. The button layout can be confusing and you might find the small screen a little frustrating, but it is a competent scanner and printer.
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Like the MP270, MP640, MP560, MP490 and MP990, the Canon PIXMA MP550 has an unobtrusive design. Its finish and construction is slightly better than the cheaper MP270, with a metallic silver finish and glossy black accents. The most important difference is the inclusion of a graphical user interface on the 2in colour LCD screen. It can be controlled by a variety of buttons and an Apple-style click wheel.
The interface of the Canon PIXMA MP550 is certainly superior to the MP270's VCR-style display, but there are still too many buttons. Thankfully the buttons are clearly labelled, and the majority of functions can be accomplished by using the click wheel and central OK button. The 2in LCD is relatively bright and clear, but it’s only good for displaying text instructions. If you are selecting photos to print off a memory card it can be hard to distinguish one thumbnail from another.
Text and photo quality prints from the Canon PIXMA MP550 are quite reasonable. When comparing MP550’s output to the Canon PIXMA MP270's, for example, we noticed significant advantages in detail and print consistency. Vertical banding on landscape images was either miniscule or completely absent, and we could not distinguish any significant posterisation artefacts in areas of complex gradation.
Print speed from the Canon PIXMA MP550 was neither too slow nor blindingly fast. In our tests it garnered a very reasonable 9.1 pages per minute in standard mode for text and 6ppm for colour graphics. The front-loading paper tray can hold up to 300 sheets, so refills in a home office should be few and far between. A top-loading rear tray is used for photo paper.
The Canon PIXMA MP550 uses five ink cartridges in total — four for colour printing and a double-size black tank for text. A full set of replacement genuine cartridges from Canon will set you back $114.75, yielding an overall cost of 20.8 cents per printed A4 page. This is on par with other major manufacturers' home office inkjet printers.
Scanning with the PIXMA MP550 is both quiet and quick. Our 600dpi test scans revealed a reasonable amount of detail, with clearly legible text and some fine image detail in scanned A4 photos. You can also scan directly to the front-mounted USB port or memory card slots.
The Canon PIXMA MP550 is a capable printer and scanner. Its control system may take a little bit of effort to master, but the pictures it produces are detailed and vibrant. Text is printed without problems at reasonable speed — it will handle regular office and home duties with ease.
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