It used to be quite unusual to find an inkjet printer for under £50, but these days there are several complete all-in-ones in this bracket and the PIXMA MG3550 is Canon's latest offering. Intended for the home or student customer, it offers basic print, scan and copy, but also include wireless support and direct print from several mobile device platforms.
We reviewed the all-black version of the machine, though white is available too and, according to the Canon product gallery, a bright red one might be in the offing. Whatever the colour, they're neat boxes with rounded vertical edges and surprisingly small footprints.
That’s when the printer’s closed up. When you open it up for work, the so-called 'fast-front' design, which may be fast, roughly doubles the space the machine takes on the desk. The front cover folds down to become the paper feed tray and the same tray is used for both plain and photo paper – though not at the same time.
An internal telescopic tray folds down on top, to take the pages or photos you print, but the end of these pages is supported by a paper stop which swings out of the front edge of the feed tray, a slightly convoluted approach.
The controls are set into the top panel of the PIXMA MG3550 and are pretty minimal, with LEDs to indicate power, wireless connection and ink and paper status. There's no LED copy counter, let alone an LCD display, and you're left to the Windows or OSX driver for most functions. There's a button sequence you can use to establish a wireless connection through WPS setup, though.
Fold down the front panel, which is behind the flip-down output tray, which is itself behind the flip-down feed tray and you gain access to the twin ink/head cartridges, one black and the other tri-colour. These slide into place, with click-to-close bars holding them in place. A single cartridge with cyan, magenta and yellow inks can be wasteful, if you print images with a surfeit of particular primaries.
Canon's software bundle is good for a budget machine and includes the company's desktop pop-up, to display images and show printer driver and printing statistics. Since it installs automatically, though, it's a good job you can remove it, if it irritates.