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With simple multi-function machines available for well under £100, it's legitimate to ask what extra value you get my paying over £200 for the high-end PIXMA MP830 from Canon. The specifications give some of it away, with things like duplex printing and duplex scanning from the Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), a paper cassette as well as a paper tray and direct printing from memory cards and PictBridge cameras.
There's more to it than just specification, though, as the machine itself has a quality finish in black and silver with inset green indicators. There are neat touches, like the fold-in tray for the ADF, which acts as a dust guard when it's not in use and the fold-down paper-out tray at the front, which automatically pops down when you start printing, if you forget to open it first.
The machine has two different paper sources, either of which can be configured for photo blanks or plain paper up to A4 in size. There's the traditional, near-vertical tray at the rear, which can take up to 150-sheets and has a rather fiddly paper support at the side, but also a 150-sheet cassette at the front. You can select between the two paper sources through software or via a button on the front panel. There’s also a CD carrier, which slides in from the front of the machine, though it’s well inside and you have to fold down a support, first. It’s not difficult, but it’s awkward to get at.
The control panel is well laid out, with mode buttons in the top left-hand corner, fax quick-dial buttons below and on the right, a four-way wheel, a number pad and start and stop buttons for colour and black jobs. In between the two sets of buttons is a 63mm LCD screen, for previewing photos from memory cards or directly from a camera, and for working through the machine's menu system.
As supplied, the LCD display doesn't look that good, with dowdy colours and poor contrast when previewing images. Fortunately, you can adjust the contrast from deep within the settings menus and things then look much more natural.
At the back there are sockets for USB 2.0 and a phone line, as the machine has full fax support and can send and receive colour faxes with suitably equipped machines at the other end of the line.
Lift the scanner section and you can get at the head carriage. The print head is a click-fit and you can then clip each of the five ink cartridges into the head – a red led lights to confirm each cartridge is correctly inserted.
Canon provides a good suite of software with the PIXMA MP830. There’s Presto! PageManager 7 for organising scans and multi-page documents, OmniPage SE2 for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and MP Navigator and Easy Photo-Print for image manipulation. There’s also CD LabelPrint, to help design labels.