Canon Pixma MX320 review
Canon’s MX range of business printers isn’t limited to those with big wallets. Less than £100 inc VAT will get you the rounded curves of the Pixma MX320, with all the core scan, copy and fax functions of the dearer Canon Pixma MX860.
It’s a short, squat device, with a 100-sheet fold-out input tray at the rear and a cavernous interior with a self-opening output tray at the front. There’s also a 30-sheet ADF on top, which folds away neatly when not in use, and for connections you have USB and a fax modem port. The MX320 is intended for a small or home office, so there’s no optional extra paper tray to add capacity, and you won’t find luxuries such as a duplex unit or colour screen.
Instead, the MX320 sticks to the basics, with just a simple LCD display for the basics, including a crude ink level monitor that appears when you begin the process of printing or copying. It uses just two cartridges, one pigment-based black and one dye-based tri-colour, so the print quality can’t compete with the best individual-ink engines, such as Canon’s own MX860 and the consumer MP630. Colours were vibrant and generally pretty accurate, and text was acceptable from a distance; but a closer look showed banding in solid areas, while black segments – despite the pigment-based ink – were more mottled and looked faded.
As with most Canon printers, we had to enter the driver and lower the unnecessary dry time between prints, and then print speeds were decent enough. If you look on Canon’s website you’ll see quoted speeds of 7.5 and 4.5ipm for mono and colour respectively. This “images per minute” measurement is a new ISO standard comprising a selection of Word, Excel and PDF documents, to provide a more realistic pattern of usage. Canon is backing the new standard, and should it be adopted by the industry we’ll be incorporating it into our printer tests.
Using our current test documents, at normal quality the MX320 managed 6.9ppm in mono and 5.2ppm in colour, making it a tad faster than the MP630 for document printing. Only in photo output did it fall behind, taking 1min 39secs for a 6 x 4in print and 3mins 18secs for our A4 montage; the MP630, a true photo printer, was twice as fast.
The scanner captured colours accurately, albeit with a slight softness to edges, and this led to copies that looked washed out and pale. You’ll need to dial up the intensity when you copy, which isn’t at all simple thanks to the awkward LCD and menu system. Each individual option must be selected by pressing OK, which then takes you back to the home menu; so changing the size, intensity and quality settings requires going in and out of the copy menu to the point of irritation.
The poor controls are the MX320’s weakest point, so you should consider paying £30 more for the MX330 with its 1.8in colour TFT. But even then it’s not a hugely compelling deal. Value is not an area where the MX320 or its screen-equipped sibling excel, thanks primarily to those two cartridges. The high-yield black PG-512 costs around £14 inc VAT and lasts for a claimed 401 pages; for colour £20 gives you 349 pages or 144 photos.
Even the smallest of offices will be ordering replacements in no time at all, so for all but the home you’ll be better off with a cheap laser. And if your argument is that you won’t print that much and would like the versatility of an inkjet, the MP630 is barely dearer and does most things better.
|Resolution printer final||4800 x 1200dpi|
|Integrated TFT screen?||yes|
|Rated/quoted print speed||8PPM|
|Maximum paper size||A4|
|Cost per A4 mono page||3.0p|
|Cost per A4 colour page||4.8p|
|Cost per A4 colour photo||11.8p|
Power and noise
|Dimensions||458 x 410 x 200mm (WDH)|
|6x4in photo print time||1min 39s|
|A4 photo print time||3min 18s|
|Mono print speed (measured)||7ppm|
|Colour print speed||5ppm|
|USB flash drive support?||yes|
|Operating system Windows 7 supported?||no|
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|