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Canon PIXMA MX850 - Canon PIXMA MX850

By Simon Williams



Our Score:


Setup is straightforward, thanks to the neat little head carrier. You plug the lifetime head into the carrier and plug each of the five cartridges into the head. When they're correctly inserted, a red LED shines up through the translucent clip for a useful bit of positive feedback. When ink is low, the corresponding LED flashes, too.

Canon provides capable software with the PIXMA MX850, including Nuance OmniPage for OCR and Presto! PageManager for document management. As well as that there's a surprisingly well-featured CD/DVD label utility, which is well tailored to the printer's direct disc printing.

Canon has taken to quoting both normal and draft mode print speeds, which is a very honest approach and something other manufacturers could copy, to customers' benefit. It rates the PIXMA MX850 at 14.9ppm for black print and 11.7ppm for colour. Our tests rated the machine at 7.1ppm and 4.2ppm, respectively, so there are still some differences in the way we measure speeds.

Single-sided printing is quick enough, compared with other machines at a similar price point, but one of the key selling features of the Canon machine is that it has both duplex print and duplex scanning. Other PIXMA multifunction machines - such as the MP610 and MP970 - offer duplex print, but no others offer double-sided scanning as well.

Unfortunately, all three machines share a very slow duplex print speed, mainly because of a nine second pause between finishing the first side of each page and starting the second. Our 20-page test file took 8:55 to complete and a 20-page duplex copy extended this time to 9:42. As well as the slowness of duplex copying, a collated source document ends up uncollated, which is annoying for a large job.

peter m

December 2, 2008, 6:53 am

As typical with new printers today, there are too many bells and whistles and therefore, too many things that can go wrong. The Ethernet doesnt work. I telephoned Canon here in Sydney and they actually acknowledged that they were receiving a number of complaints. After 2 hours trying to work through we just gave up and bought a second printer. Additionally, the print quality of this printer (and many others produced today) is substandard. I have an old 2003 HP 1210 that would cost $10 second hand today. Although very slow with printing, the quality is far far superior to this Canon Printer and a new HP printer we bought. The sales people in Harvey Norman were shocked when I went back to them and asked them (a) if they ever test the printers from the manufacturers before they buy a wholesale lot (they said no) and (b) to choose which print came from the 2008 printer and which from the cheap 2003 printer (they chose the 2003 printer both times).

Bullet points:

- Ethernet doesnt work (and by Canon's own admission)

- Scan quality is very poor

- Print quality is only 'adequate' but essentially substandard.

- Very difficult to follow set up instructions for the more advanced features


April 10, 2009, 8:11 am

It is a pity that Peter M couldn't get his MX850 network printing + network scanning to work. I installed the software provided by Canon and was able to get it working the first go. MX850's network printing and scanning are quite useful. You can the memory card reader on MX850 via the network. Furthermore, it is one of a few SOHO multi-function printers that can do double sided scanning (so double sided scanning via network is possible).

MX850 costs less than a MP830 and yet it comes with an Ethernet port. Canon is able to do this because Canon switched to a CIS based scanner for MX850. The scanner in MP830 is better. The CIS scanner in MX850 is not bad, but its default setting (when doing photocopying especially) can result in slightly lighter output. This can be fixed by using Auto setting, but that resulted in two scans (first to determine the best darkness/contract level and second pass to scan the picture). Alternatively, adjust the level before you photocopy. Majority of SOHO multi-function devices nowadays come with a CIS scanner. They all have the same issue.

CD/DVD printing is also a plus. Overall, printing quality is good enough. I don't print photos very often (prefer to go to the shops and have them print the photos for me as cost of printing photos using an ink jet printer is just too high). Double sided printing is not good (because Canon refuse to have the printer use the pigment black ink to print the second side). The long wait for the first side to dry before duplex printing resumes is also annoying.

If network printing and scanning is important to you, MX850 is worth considering. Just with all ink jet printers, the running cost of ink is generally quite high. It would have been better had Canon put a CCD scanner in there, but with the competition keeping the price low, it is reasonable for Canon to switch the scanner to a CIS scanner.

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