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Canon PIXMA MX850 - Canon PIXMA MX850

By Simon Williams



Our Score:


The printed output is good quality, with black text coming through crisp and clean. At least, it does for single-sided documents, but with duplex ones, the black ink is much less dense, more a dark grey, and the edges of text are more jagged. We suspect this is because single-sided documents use the printer's pigmented black ink, while double-sided ones use dye-based black.

Photo prints are well up to Canon's normal standards, with well-differentiated colours, good detail in areas of low light and smooth, gradated colours in areas of sea and sky. Although they don't have quite the delicacy of hue that the six-colour PIXMA MPs can produce, photo quality is still more than adequate.

We always hunt for low prices for original cartridges when assessing print costs, but were surprised to the point of marginal incredulity at the £3.15p we found colour cartridges for on Amazon. Checking them out, they aren't remanufactured or third-party, so we can quote a particularly low cost per colour page of just 2.15p. This is a very good figure, compared with the competition, which averages nearer to 5p.

Pigmented black ink, from the same source, costs £4.85p, giving a cost per page of 1.78p. This is also a good figure, though more in line with the printer's rivals. The print heads should last the lifetime of the printer, so ink cartridges are your only consumable cost.


This is a serviceable SOHO multifunction printer, with a good feature list for most uses. Unfortunately, two of the machine's key features, duplex printing and copying, are flawed. Not only does black print on double-sided documents not have the same density and blackness, but the speed of duplex print is so low that most people won't choose to make the resource savings and will opt for single-sided print, instead.

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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