Canon PIXMA MP990 – All-in-One Inkjet Printer - Canon PIXMA MP990

By Simon Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Canon PIXMA MP990 – All-in-One Inkjet Printer


Our Score:


Canon reckons the PIXMA MP990 can print 11.9 ISO black page images a minute and 9.1 colour page ones. We didn’t see quite these speeds, though we got closer to them than is often the case. Our 5-page text print returned 6.98ppm, which rose to 9.30ppm for the 20-page test. The 5-page text and graphic test gave 5.45ppm.

These speeds are reasonable for an inkjet, though there’s a fair degree of variation because of the amount of fiddling about the printer does before and during printing. On one photo print the machine took 45s before it started printing. On the second run, this preparation time was much shorter, and we saw these kinds of differences on some of the other print tests, too.

When it comes to duplex print, things are a bit grey...literally. The printer appears to use the dye-based photo black ink in place of the pigmented black used for single-sided text print. This is likely to be because the dye ink dries more quickly than the pigmented and Canon can reduce the pause between printing first and second sides of each page.

However, the dye-based ink isn’t as dense as the pigmented, so text appears decided grey in comparison with simplex pages. The colour print head is also shallower than the black, so it takes more passes to print a page, which means printing is slower. As well as the pause between sides, this slower print increased the print time to 7:04 for our 20-side, 10-page test, giving a speed of 2.83 sides per minute, which is slow.

Photo prints, something of a specialism of this machine, come through quickly, with our 15 x 10cm tests taking around 30 seconds, irrespective of the source.

Print quality is generally good, leaving aside the greyness of duplex pages. Black text on simplex pages is dense and generally well formed, with only occasional ink bleed from the pigmented ink. Colour graphics are bright and smooth, with no signs of banding and very little obvious patterning from colour dithers.

Photo images remain among the best we've seen from five or six-ink machines. Colour transitions are smooth, tones are natural and there's plenty of detail in darker as well as lighter areas of images. We printed a couple of black and white photos and mid-range shades are a definite improvement over printers relying on black ink alone. Grey neutrality is good throughout the range and without going to eight or nine-colour machines, is probably the best you'll see.

There’s an extra grey cartridge to factor into the colour running costs for this machine which pushes up the colour cost per page. We calculate a black page cost of 3.18p and a colour page cost of 9.27p, both including 0.7p for paper.

The black page cost is pretty much on a par with those inkjets which don't major on cheap black print – Kodak and Lexmark are those that do. The colour cost is about a penny per page higher than some of Canon's competitors.


As the top-ranking all-in-one in Canon's range, the PIXMA MP990 includes wireless connection, CD/DVD print, transparency and negative scanning and an extra grey ink for improved black and white prints. Print quality is excellent and speeds, though a little erratic, are in the same order as its main rivals. For the given feature set, the price is not unduly high and overall it deserves a recommendation.


December 22, 2009, 6:15 pm

Why will photo black and grey inks enhance its wireless capabilities??


December 22, 2009, 9:01 pm

How is it different to the MP640, which seems to have the same spec at half the price?

Jay Werfalli

December 22, 2009, 11:39 pm

@Flatline - What? Haven't you heard about wireless inks..? (Cheers! Summary changed)

Jay Werfalli

December 23, 2009, 12:03 am


- The MP990 has 6 inks for enhanced monochrome printing (MP640 - 5 inks)

- 3.8in LCD screen, (3in LCD screen)

- The MP990 has a film adapter unit for scanning 35mm negatives and slides (CCD-based).

- It prints a little quicker than the MP640 (according to Canon).


December 23, 2009, 2:27 am

@Jay - that's alright then!


December 23, 2009, 4:24 am

I think you have to be really into your monochrome printing to make this worth it extra over the MP640.

Derek Davies

December 23, 2009, 3:32 pm

I've been looking forward to a Review on this product, although my interest started with its predecessor, and my particular interest was with the transparency and negative scanning capability but I was torn between sticking with my current Photo Printer and buying a replacement 6400dpi transparency and negative scanning-capable Scanner, or this All-in-One device, albeit at 4800dpi...but you don’t appear to have tested this functionality...or have you? or will you??...any thoughts or recommendations?


February 16, 2010, 11:03 pm

I'm very disappointed by the lack of review of the scanner unit, especially considering this is the major cause of the price difference with the MP640. CCD scanners are much better than CIS scanners, and the MP990 is the only one in the Canon range with such a good scanner. I have no doubt the resolution is excellent (considering it can be used to scan slides and negatives), I would have liked to know more about colour fidelity, etc.


May 16, 2010, 3:58 am

Lovely prints but drinks ink like you would not believe! Frequent automatic head priming make the ink levels plummet even when not printing. Went through first set of colour cartridges for only 35 pages of text and 2 small b&w photos.

Andrew 19

July 28, 2010, 6:22 pm

Shame on you for giving such a high rating to this machine. Yes it does give good prints and its scanner is excellent, but the running costs are ridiculous and much higher than quoted. When this machine performs a cleaning cycle, it uses an extraordinary amount of ink, so if you only use it once a day, then you can run out a whole set of cartridges within 8 weeks! That is a huge cost and not reflected properly in the scoring. Worse, you cannot disable this auto clean feature, which Canon say is necessary to keep the jets clear. Clearly this machine is only useful if you are doing high volumes - but in that case you would be better off with something else. So what is the point of this machine - absolutely none.

Again another case of TR not reviewing product properly.

Also where are the outputs so we can see the quality and compare it with other machines. This appears on other review sites, so why not here too.

There is also very little about the scanner itself. Again shame on you for not reviewing this properly.


December 21, 2010, 1:49 pm

Canon have let themselves down again by not providing support for Linux users with this printer.

In fact, it would be very handy if reviewers would remember to include which OS are supported in printer reviews (obviously you couldn't check every disto, but at least mentioning that the printer is or isn't supported in Ubuntu and OSX would be great).

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