Canon PIXMA MP230
print speed, USB, 153x444x329mm
Canon's entry-level PIXMA MP230 is aimed at people who don't need a top-spec MFP. You can't install it on a network or use it to print photos from a memory card, it won't send faxes and it doesn't even have a proper paper output tray. Instead, it's a compact no-nonsense device that focuses on basic prints, scans and copies. At less than £30 it sounds like a bargain.
The MP230 is tiny by MFP standards and it feels incredibly light, but it looks and feels basic rather than cheap or nasty. At the rear is a simple flip-up paper input tray which, when not in use, folds forward into a recess on the scanner's lid to stop dust getting into the printer. The scanner lid is thin and a bit flexible, but its hinges feel strong enough, and are engineered to allow perhaps 5mm or so of extension so that it can close on thick originals such as a magazine. The scanner bed itself tilts up to give access to fit the ink cartridges, while at the right of the top panel are a set of simple controls and LED indicators to cover the essential functions, although we couldn't see how to make multiple copies at a time.
The only obvious omission is that there's no output tray, so printed pages simply fall out onto the desk. It's possible to keep them tidy by placing a book or another obstacle slightly more than a page's length from the printer, but if you don't have the desk space you'll need to catch pages before they spill onto the floor.
In use this is quite a noisy MFP, with the print heads making quite a loud scraping noise as they pass repeatedly over the page. The scanner is also appreciably louder than most, making a coarse racket as the head is positioned. Inkjets and scanners are usually quieter when working at higher quality settings where the heads must move more slowly, but the MP230 is even noisy when printing photos at its highest quality setting. We can't remember the last time we tested a printer that couldn't print photos without borders, even on 6x4in paper.
Print status monitor CAPTION The MP230's print status monitor is simple but useful, much like the printer itself
The good news is that nothing else is missing. The MP230 uses Canon's usual drivers for printing and scanning, which means that it's easy to churn out jobs with typical settings, while more advanced options aren't too hard to find. For such a cheap printer the results were impressive. On plain paper, text was black and crisp while colours were solid and true without significant banding. We were also impressed with the sharp focus and accurate colours in scans, although the maximum 600x1,200dpi optical resolution rules out anything too creative or detailed.
There's Advanced Mode for those who want it, but Canon's basic scan interface is clear and simple
Cheap printers often cost a lot to run, but with the MP230 this is only part true. At 3.5p, the black component of printing mixed pages is quite high, but the 4.9p colour component isn't bad, leading to a reasonable 8.5p per page cost overall. This isn't a great MFP for photo prints or scans, but it's perfect if you need a cheap and cheerful all-rounder – as long as you don’t need Wi-Fi, this is a great Budget Buy.