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All-in-one machines are usually more expensive than their simple printing counterparts and it's unusual to find one at under £50. Canon's new PIXMA MP210 is unusual, though, and offers all the copy and scanning advantages of its bigger siblings at a true budget price.
For a Japanese product, this Canon is surprisingly bulky, with a large grey and black case echoing the lacquer-box look of its immediate predecessors. A 100-sheet feed tray folds open and extends up at the back and an output tray folds down and pulls out from the front. There's no secondary tray, as there is with the PIXMA MP610, and no option to print CD or DVD labels. It would be very surprising if either were included in a device at this price.
The control panel is also simple, with no colour LCD; in fact no LCD at all. In its place is a single, seven-segment green LED display that endeavours to produce a variety of messages by showing different combinations of segments as well as a single digit for the number of copies. At first glance it looks a bit like Predator's wristwatch in the Schwarzenegger film but once you've looked up what all the different signals mean it's quite informative. There are eight other indicators and as many control buttons.
The scanner section includes what Canon calls a Z-lid, which lifts up front and back so you can place a book on the flatbed glass. While this works, it's only good for slim volumes; books of poetry rather than Geoffrey Archer novels. At the back is a single USB 2.0 socket and one for a mains cable; even in this budget machine, there's no separate power-supply brick.
Lift the main scanner section and a mauve-ish strut drops down, like the bonnet support on an old MG, so you can get at the twin cartridge holders with both hands. The PIXMA MP210 uses a black cartridge and a tri-colour one and these slip in and clip upwards to lock into position. It can be a bit fiddly to get them properly located, but the Quick Start sheet provides reasonable diagrams.
The bundled software includes OmniPage SE for Optical Character Recognition and various Canon utilities that all install simply enough, though you can't leave it to get on with the job as it keeps asking for confirmation and agreement to licences.
Canon has added a new feature called Auto Image Fix to its MP Navigator EX software, which applies unspecified fixes to images to ‘enhance' them. It appeared to make little difference to the images we tried it on, but no doubt that was due to our Snowdon-esque quality of our photographs.