The Pixma MF170 has no monitor display to show what’s on a memory card plugged into it, so uses a technique pioneered by HP. You print out an index sheet for the card, which includes check boxes for each thumbnail image. Fill these in with a pen and scan the sheet to print out your selected photos. Very easy, and you can fill check boxes for print quantity, paper size, date, optimisation and even face brightness.
Print speed is commendably quick for an inexpensive device and we produced our five-page text print in 43 seconds, giving a page speed of 7ppm. Our mixed text and graphics page took 23 seconds, but we couldn’t match Canon’s claim of a 15 x 10cm photo print in 55 seconds. No matter what the source, our prints took around 1:20. This still compares well with any of its competition, though.
Print quality is very good, all round. Sharp black text print is matched by faithful colours and smooth graphics print. Photo images are well rendered and the colours are natural with plenty of detail, even in dark, shadowed areas.
The only real blot in Canon's copybook with this machine, and it's not isolated to this device, is its use of colour ink to prime areas of black print. What this means is that when you're printing what you think is a mono page, you're quite likely to be using colour ink, as well as black.
In our page-yield tests, we used roughly half a standard-yield colour cartridge in the process of depleting a full, high-yield, black cartridge. We've added the cost of this extra ink into the black print costs we've calculated, which gives a relatively high cost per page of 5.7p.
A colour page cost of 53.6p for 20 per cent cover is mainly down to the price of Canon's A4 glossy photo paper, which we couldn't find for less than 43p a sheet. If you're prepared to print on cheaper, generic paper, or know of a cheaper source of Canon paper, you could reduce these costs substantially.
From our tests and simply by using this multifunction machine, it seems to represent exceptional value. Providing a very good feature set, including the ability to print images from memory cards and cameras, and producing high-quality results, all for under £70, shows why the market for all-in-one machines, rather than simple ink-jet printers, continues to expand.