Canon ImageClass MF8170C
At a Glance
imageCLASS MF8170c Color Multifuntion - 2400x600dpi 33.6Kbps
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High print quality distinguishes this color laser MFP, though it's not speedy and networking options are limited.
It's big and it's heavy. But the Canon ImageClass MF8170C fits on a desk, and it takes up a lot less room than four separate machines.
The MF8170C excelled in scan quality, earning some of our top scores. Whether printed or viewed on-screen, scans reproduced color and detail well. Scanned images showed good skin tones, too, and re-created lines and patterns accurately.
The MF8170C's scanning speed was average: 29.3 seconds for a color document in 29.3 seconds, putting it in the middle of the scores of the three color models, and a few seconds ahead of the average across monochrome and color units. The device also copied documents easily via the front console, reproducing a monochrome page of text in just 2.8 seconds while retaining the letters' sharpness and darkness.
The MF8170C doesn't print on photo paper, but color images printed on plain paper looked vibrant and smooth nonetheless, with very little pixelation. It managed skin tones well, and reds and blues were bright without being garish. Text prints came out at just 10.6 pages per minute, and color graphics emerged at 1.9 ppm--not bad for a color laser MFP, but significantly slower than you'd get with a stand-alone color laser.
I was disappointed by the MF8170C's middling network support. Unlike the other networked MFPs we tested for our July 2005 issue, this device is set up solely for a server/client environment, so it doesn't employ the scan function on a network. I had to search for the MFP by its IP address, and once the server found it, it installed the printer and fax drivers, and asked me to choose a default driver between them. After that, I could look for the shared printer on the network and pull those drivers to a client. Strangely, Canon doesn't give you the option of installing scanner drivers on each individual client; instead, it drops that function altogether when on a network. Hooked up locally via USB, the MF8170C will work as a scanner.
Once the MFP is on the network, Canon's comparatively feeble embedded Web server lets end users check the status of a job, but not make any changes. A password-protected administrator mode permits a network manager to change settings, but the end-user mode is just for informational purposes. End-user mode includes a job manager that reports the status of print jobs and activity logs; an address book that lists fax numbers; and general settings for printing, copying, and faxing.
Canon doesn't bundle much software with the MF8170C beyond the unit's drivers and a Web server application for directing where scans from the MF8170C will sit on the PC. The MF Toolbox software also lets you scan the image to an OCR document or save the image to an e-mail message, as a graphic file, or as a PDF; as noted, however, you lose the scanner functionality when you hook this up via a network. It comes with a 250-sheet main paper tray and a 125-sheet multipurpose tray but no optional paper handling features.
The MF8170C is an appealing MFP for small offices that want good image quality but don't need a speedy printer or extensive networking options.