Canon Pixma MX860 review

Price when reviewed

Inkjets were once considered the sole preserve of the home user, but the increasing reliability and speed of the technology, and its falling cost per page, has opened the way for more business-focussed machines.

Canon Pixma MX860 review

Canon’s multifunction inkjet, the MX860, is the latest to hit the market and to say it’s a jack of all trades would be to considerably understate the case. This machine does absolutely everything: it’s a colour printer, scanner, copier and a fax machine, all in one reasonably compact box.

That set of features isn’t, in itself, particularly out of the ordinary, but it has automatic duplex printing, an ADF that scans in duplex mode too, Ethernet and wireless networking, a USB port and card reader, plus a 2.4in colour screen with which to navigate through all of its myriad functions.

The printer is full of other nice touches, too. Print to the device without the output tray unfolded and it will flip open automatically. Also impressive is the ability to scan documents directly to searchable PDF invaluable for digital filing. The only fly in the ointment is that the USB port is recessed, making fat sticks impossible to connect.

But the MX860 quickly gets back to winning ways with its output quality. The print engine uses the same five-ink system as our A-Listed consumer multifunction device, the Pixma MP630, and it produces impeccable quality, too. In best mode and on glossy paper, photographs were produced flawlessly, with little evidence of grain, and colours looked accurate too; plain red, green and blue shades were bang on the money and gradients were smooth with not a hint of colour contamination.

Draft and normal prints on plain paper were good too, with crisp text and decent colours (apart from a slightly orangey red) in standard mode and draft text was perfectly readable too. Scan and copy results were also pretty good. Photo copies, perhaps inevitably, looked a touch softer than the original, but not so you’d notice straight away, and scans were sharp, capturing all the colours and detail of our test sample. Just like its consumer counterpart, the MX860 produces superb quality results; it is unparalleled on this front in the business multifunction market.

It’s all extremely impressive, but for a business printer to be practical it also needs to be able to print high volumes, churn out that quality day after day and to do it cheaply. And it is here that the MX860 begins to look a little less convincing. The first problem is the tiny paper input tray, which is only takes a maximum 150 sheets (the rear input tray holds another 150). Send a print job to a networked printer and the last thing you want to have to do is to restock it when you get to it, and then have to wait for someone else’s print job to finish before yours even starts.

Our A List alternative choice, the HP OfficeJet Pro L7780, holds 600 sheets – 450 more than the Canon’s meagre capacity – and it’s also a touch faster at producing prints. The MX860 is on a par with it in standard mode, producing mono text documents at 8ppm, but it lags behind the L7780 in draft, which can churn out pages at 20ppm compared to the Canon’s 10ppm. Start using the duplex mode and you’ll be tying up the printer for long periods of time, too. We timed our 10 page mono document in standard mode at a lengthy 6mins 2secs, over four times slower than one-sided mode.

But cost per page is pretty low and with the pigment based black capable of printing up to 3,425 text pages at just £8.59 inc VAT (compared to around £12 for the 2,450 L7780 equivalent), it should be very reasonable to run in the long term.

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 9600 x 2400dpi
Integrated TFT screen? yes
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 0.2p

Power and noise

Dimensions 491 x 437 x 226mm (WDH)

Copier Specification

Fax? yes

Performance tests

Mono print speed (measured) 10ppm

Media Handling

Borderless printing? yes
Input tray capacity 150 sheets


USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? yes
Bluetooth connection? no
WiFi connection? yes
PictBridge port? yes

Flash media

USB flash drive support? yes

OS Support

Operating system Windows 7 supported? no
Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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