Top inkjet all-in-one printers

These inkjet models offer something for everyone with a range of performance, price, and capabilities

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Rating:

rating_icon_3.5_stars.gif

Pros:
Versatile paper handling
Midrange or better speeds

Cons:
Plain-paper color quality errs on the ruddy side

Bottom Line: You needn't sacrifice performance for style: This MFP gives you full print/copy/scan/fax capabilities in a glossy package.

REVIEW:
The Canon Pixma MX882 is one of many color inkjet multifunction printers offering full print/copy/scan/fax functionality, plus Wi-Fi, for about $200 (as of April 6, 2011). Although the Epson WorkForce 635 outshines it in speed and ink costs, the Pixma MX882 has more versatile paper handling, as well as a more stylish design.

Canon's control-panel design scores big points for creativity, but it sacrifices utility for cleverness. The culprit is a four-by-four grid of buttons that accompany the 3-inch color LCD, and light up or darken according to function. The lit symbols aren't centered, but rather offset to the left. The overall effect is somewhat disconcerting; even after we got used to it, the spread of the buttons remained a bit uncomfortable to use.

The Pixma MX882's features will easily accommodate a small or home office. USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi connectivity are standard, along with slots for Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card media, plus a USB/PictBridge port. Paper handling includes a 150-sheet bottom-mounted input tray for letter- or legal-size plain paper, as well as a rear vertical feed for thicker media or another 150 sheets of paper. The MFP also has a 35-sheet letter/legal automatic document feeder and a letter/A4 flatbed platen. The Pixma MX882 can print, copy, and scan automatically in duplex (two-sided).

In our speed tests the Pixma MX882 landed in the midrange or better. Plain-black text and simple monochrome graphics averaged 7.5 pages per minute on the PC and nearly 8 ppm on the Mac. Snapshot-size color photos exited at 3 ppm when printed on plain paper at default settings, and slowed to 1.9 ppm at better settings on Canon's own photo paper. Scans and copies were relatively quick, as well. You can achieve much greater speeds in draft mode.

The text and monochrome graphics that the Pixma MX882 produces are excellent--precisely drawn and deeply black in default mode, and nearly laserlike in high-quality mode. Color quality is affected by paper type: On plain paper, our images looked overly pink or orange, and very soft. Switching to Canon's own glossy photo paper resulted in smoother, more natural results. Color scans showed the same ruddy tendencies, but monochrome scans were fairly precise. Monochrome and color copies appeared crisp and fairly smooth even on plain paper.

Ink costs for the Pixma MX882 are better than average. The pigment black used for text costs $16 and lasts 341 pages, or 4.7 cents per page. Cyan, magenta, and yellow each cost $14 and last 500 to 520 pages, or 2.7 to 2.8 cents per page. A four-color page would cost 12.9 cents. Canon also sells a dye-based photo black, meant primarily for printing photos; it costs $14 and lasts for 670 4-by-6-inch photos, according to the company. The Kodak ESP 9250 has far cheaper inks, but it falls short in other respects.

Canon bundles its excellent set of utilities for both PC and Mac. The tools handle everything from basic scanning to OCR and photo editing, as well as layout and printing. The setup routine is simple, requiring minimal user intervention. On the Mac, you can register both the printer and the scanner without having to delve into the System Preferences dialog boxes manually.

Featurewise, the Canon Pixma MX882 offers all you could ask for in a small-office all-in-one--as do many other models in its price range. Choose this Canon MFP if you want flexible paper handling and a little more style.

Correction: This review was corrected to indicate that duplexing is available on both the PC and the Mac.Epson Artisan 837 Color Inkjet All-In-One
Epson Artisan 837 Color Inkjet All-In-One Review, by Melissa Riofrio and Jon L. Jacobi October 10, 2011

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