Canon Pixma MP170 review
This month’s all-in-ones can be divided into two price categories, but the Canon Pixma MP170 blurs the boundaries between the two. At £49, it’s easily affordable, but throughout testing it consistently held its own with more expensive counterparts.
Both Canons achieved fantastic results wherever text was involved: the MP170 produced 8ppm in Draft mode, but it was almost indistinguishable from the quality of Normal output. Both were crisp, clear and almost free of spidering, despite the Normal quality output taking twice as long to print.
The scanning and copying of text was equally impressive, with copy rates of 3.8ppm and 9.7ppm for Normal and Draft quality making the MP170 a useful photocopier. It does have a major weakness, though: the two-line dot-matrix menu display is fiddly, confusing and time-consuming to use.
The MP170 doesn’t support the CL-52 photo cartridge, but that doesn’t stop it producing high-quality photos. With the black and tri-colour cartridges, it did a superb job with our A4 photomontage, delivering warm skin tones and vivid colours, and showing slight banding only close up. Plus, it took just three minutes, 37 seconds to print; only its bigger sibling, the MP500, churned it out faster.
Our monochrome test picture and 6 x 4in photos were just as detailed, although perhaps slightly too light. The only problem was the hard-to-read road names on our webpage, but only two all-in-ones were quicker overall this month.
The MP170’s only other weakness is scanning images. It managed accurate skin tones at 300ppi, but generally photo scans were too bright: yellows became almost white and reds almost orange. While not lacking in detail, the resulting images will require work in the bundled ArcSoft PhotoStudio. Copies suffered from this problem too, with colours not exactly true to the originals. However, the colour shifts are minor and not a huge blow to the MP170’s chances. And only the Epson RX640 scanned documents quicker, while copying was also speedy.
A useful OCR utility is included along with a set of standard-capacity cartridges, making the £49 price tag exceptionally low. The cost of 37p per 6 x 4in photo is also reasonable, and you can print directly from a camera or memory card thanks to the PictBridge port and card readers (which only lack xD support). The MP170 can’t match the best for scanning quality and doesn’t sport loads of features, but nothing can beat it for value.