Canon Pixma MX340 review
8ppm print speed, USB, 802.11b/g wireless, 198x458x410mm
Canon has consistently impressed us with the quality of its recent MFPs, but they haven't had much appeal for the budget conscious, with most of current models priced at over £100.
At just over £80, the Pixma MX340 is a fully-featured four-in-one MFP with print, scan, copy and fax capabilities, as well as easy-to-configure 802.11b/g wireless networking. It has a modest 100 page paper tray and a 30-page Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) to make multi-page faxes and copies easy.
To include all these features at this price, Canon has made a few compromises – there's no memory card reader for starters. Unlike most of the Pixma range, the MX340 doesn't use individual ink cartridges. Instead, there's a pigment-based black cartridge, which is used to produce sharp, quick-drying mono text; plus a tri-colour cartridge, which contains dye-based cyan, magenta and yellow ink. Both these have integrated print heads.
There's no dye-based black, so black areas in photo prints are made by combining the three coloured inks. The use of a combined colour cartridge also means that you'll have to replace the entire cartridge if one ink runs out before the others.
The MX340's print costs, although expensive, aren't prohibitively high if you use Canon's high yield PC-512 and CL-513 cartridges – 8.7p per page of mixed colour and mono printing. A mono page is an alarming 3.6p, though. These costs are too high to make the MX340 a good choice if you print every day, but they're acceptable for occasional use.
Mono text was as sharp as we've come to expect from Canon, but we found that colour documents on plain 80gsm photocopier paper were printed with slightly too much ink, producing damp waves in areas that were filled with solid colour. Fortunately, they didn't smudge and dried smoothly when laid flat. Photo quality was surprisingly good for a printer that uses composite blacks – dark areas were a little pale in comparison to those from printers that use dye-based black for photo printing.
Thanks to Canon's use of the ISO/IEC 24734 standard, print speeds are almost exactly as advertised. Standard quality text emerged at reasonable 6.9ppm, but colour documents printed slowly at 1.7ppm.
The 1,200x2,400dpi Contact Image Sensor (CIS) scanner makes an unpleasant whining noise when operating, but produces accurately coloured scans and clear photocopies. Canon's ScanGear interface provides plenty of advanced options for tweaking your scans and can be configured to either close or remain open after each scan, which is particularly welcome if you want to scan a batch of documents or photos. You can also control whether your preview image is retained between scans.
If you're going to print regularly, you'll ultimately save money and get better print speeds and quality by investing in a more expensive device, like Canon's non-fax MP640. However, the MX340's combination of quality and features are great if you need a printer than can do everything, but not very often.