Canon PIXMA MX885 review
Canon's MX885 is the latest in a line of strikingly attractive printers in Canon's PIXMA range. It's a fairly big, glossy black device with a large colour screen and a spattering of blue status LEDs. The control panel seems to have a blank 4x4 grid of buttons, but when powered up these illuminate with icons relevant to the selected mode. It looks smart, and it's easier to use than the combined scrollwheel and rocker switch used on the MX420 (see What's New, issue 281).
The MX885 is a range-topping inkjet multifunction peripheral (MFP) aimed at home or small office use, so its specification is impressive. There's support for wired and wireless networks, along with direct printing from various memory cards, flash drives or PictBridge devices. It can send and receive faxes in addition to the usual prints, scans and copies. The fax function isn't just an afterthought; it's partnered with a 35-sheet automatic document feeder that can automatically capture both sides of an original (duplex), making it ideal for scanning or faxing multi-page documents. The printer can perform the same trick, so it's possible to make faithful copies of double-sided originals – though you'll have to dig into the menu to change the necessary settings.
Like several other PIXMA models, the MX885 has both a rear paper tray and a cassette underneath, each of which can hold up to 150 sheets. It's a useful facility for a home business, letting you store plain paper in one and invoices or headed paper in the other. Frustratingly, however, the printer seems reluctant to pick from the rear tray without being asked expressly to do so. Another frustration we experienced was that the printer would occasionally undertake housekeeping, delaying printing and sometimes the MFP's other functions.
Our only other criticism of note relates to the MX885's running costs, which are a little high for such an expensive device and, more importantly, aren't as low as some of the competition – notably Kodak's range and some Epson products. The printer uses Canon's familiar five-ink setup comprising black, cyan, magenta and yellow for graphics and photos, with an additional black pigment ink used on plain paper only. While all five cartridges have a generous capacity, they aren't particularly cheap.
Print quality was high across our tests, with the MX885 quick to deliver bold and reasonably sharp black text. With the benefit of dye-based colour inks, the printer produced far better photos than typical for a business-orientated device, but this didn't come at the expense of poor quality colour graphics on plain paper. Photocopies were better than average, too, with good preservation of dark shades and faithful colour reproduction.
The MX885's scanner matches the high quality of its printer. It's quick, managing a full-bed preview in just six seconds, and the quality of its scanned images is among the best: they're sharp, with highly accurate colours and excellent preservation of subtle details. There are cheaper four-in-one MFPs with lower running costs – such as the Kodak ESP Office 2170 – but the MX885's looks and top-quality results justify its premium price.
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