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It's quite hard to find critical reviews of Canon's all-in-one machines on the Internet, including at TrustedReviews, because the company has pretty much perfected the technology, feature set and most importantly the print quality of its printers. How does it manage at the entry-level price point, though? The PIXMA MP190 costs well under £50 from online sources, so is there any cost-cutting in evidence?
Despite its low price, the PIXMA MP190 is still a substantial machine, decked out in black and off-white and with a curve at the bottom to relieve its otherwise boxy appearance. Its lid lifts to reveal a straightforward A4 flatbed scanner, which uses a Contact Image Sensor (CIS), a cheaper technology than the Charge Coupled Device (CCD) and below that the front panel hinges down to become the output tray. Unlike Epson and HP models, which have multi-section telescopic trays, the size of Canon's device means that pages don't have to stick out from the front so far and the single flip-over support is enough to support A4 pages.
The control panel is surprisingly busy, with separate buttons for black and white and colour copies, a button for scans and indicators for power, paper size/type and low ink in either of the two cartridges. Unlike Canon's more expensive all-in-ones, this machine has a single paper feed from an angled tray at the rear. Folding up a small cover at the back turns it into a pull-up paper support and you can load paper from 15 x 10cm up to A4 in this feed slot.
There's a single-character, nine-segment green LED display, used for showing the number of copies and for other, more symbolic indications - two rotating segments when the printer is printing, for example, and an ‘o' when the main cover is open.
One thing sadly missing from this machine is a PictBridge socket for connecting digital cameras. Although there's little point in having memory card slots in a machine without a colour LCD display, it would still be handy to be able to connect your camera for printing photos, without having to call on your computer to help.
If you hinge the whole scanner section up, you reveal the simple, fixed printhead, which takes twin cartridges - a pigmented black and a dye-based tricolour. These are easy to install, though you do have to click them up into position, which is a little unusual. Software installation is similarly easy, with a full suite of Canon utilities, including its own MP Navigator, which includes OCR for text document conversion.