To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £222.67
inc VAT

A smart mono laser MFP for the small office, but it could be cheaper to run


mono laser, 25ppm print speed, USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, 360x390x445mm

Canon’s i-Sensys MF4890dw is a compact multifunction printer (MFP) aimed at home and small offices. It isn’t the cheapest printer of its type, but it’s more highly specified than entry-level rivals, and lets you print, scan, copy documents and send faxes. It has a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for multiple-page scans or faxes, and Fast Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections make it easy to network.

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw

This MFP prints on both sides of a sheet of paper (duplex) and, unusually, is also capable of duplex scans, faxes and copies. This helps produce professional results and ought to save quite a bit of paper. Unfortunately, you might have to use any money saved to fund the printer’s running costs; when its 1,000-page starter cartridge runs out, 2,100-page replacements cost around 2.1p per page, which is a little higher than we’d like in a device at this price.

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw

As far as mono laser MFPs go, this is a great looking device, with a simple design showing elements of flair. It feels well made, too. Its articulated paper tray folds neatly into place, and the various hinges, lids and panels all move and latch with a bit of finesse. Sadly, we weren’t impressed with the paper output tray because its stopper rotates out of the front and is too narrow to support the front edge of printed pages fully, allowing them to curl.

We also found the control panel somewhat daunting. Although it can be tilted to the ideal angle, it’s festooned with 42 buttons, with the functions of some not immediately obvious. The settings menu, for example, hides behind an icon that looks a little like a stylised head containing a star, which isn’t an icon we’ve seen before.

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw

In most other respects, this is a great device. It’s a rapid printer, reaching almost 24 pages per minute on our text test and nearly 22ppm when printing graphics, and the results from both were very good. Prints were crisp, with a uniform sheen from the toner and little sign of banding or obvious dithering. Only in the darkest region of some photos and graphics did the results tend to get too dark and lose detail. Photocopies were excellent and extremely rapid, with 10 mono pages taking just 36 seconds.

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw Duplex By Default
The MF4890dw prints to both sides of the page by default. If you’re feeling paper-rich, switch duplex off from the driver’s Finishing tab

Scans were sharp and detailed enough for office purposes, although the colour accuracy of our photo test print wasn’t the best we’ve seen from Canon. Sadly, we didn’t like the noise produced by the moving scanner head. At low resolutions it was harsh, while slower scans at the maximum 600 dots per inch (dpi) were positively grating. The print mechanism was a little shrill, too, also producing one significant clunk with each page that it picked.

Canon i-Sensys MF4890dw Advanced Mode Preview
Canon’s TWAIN scan interface, shown here in Advanced Mode, is one of the best

In time we’d probably learn to live with this MFP’s minor irritations and enjoy it for the attractive, highly specified and strong performer that it is, but it’s high running costs mean we could never love it. Anyone printing in reasonable volumes would be better served by the Xerox WorkCentre 3315.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Maximum native print resolution 600x600dpi
Max optical resolution 600x600dpi
Output bit depth 24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 25ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two greyscale 10x8in photos 1.1 19s
Time for six greyscale 6x4in photos 1.0 19s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional printer interfaces none
Size 360x390x445mm
Weight 13.4kg
Noise (in normal use) 51dB(A)
Duty cycle 10,000 pages

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size A4/legal
Maximum paper weight 163gsm
Standard paper inputs 2
Standard paper input capacity 251
Maximum paper inputs 2
Maximum paper input capacity 251
Duplex (code, cost if option) Yes


Printer technology mono laser
Language(s) GDI
Supported operating systems Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later, various Linux distributions
Maximum printer memory 128MB
Other laser features and options none

Buying Information

Price £223
Consumable parts and prices £45
Price of 2nd paper cassette N/A
Warranty one year RTB

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview 10s
A4 document at 150dpi 17s
A4 document at 300dpi 30s
6x4in photo at 600dpi 32s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi Fail

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.0 9s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0 36s

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies 99
Max mono copy resolution 600x600dpi

Fax Features

Max mono fax resolution 200x400dpi
Fax memory (maximum mono pages) 256