capsule review

Canon Pixma MP950

At a Glance
  • Canon PIXMA MP950 All-In-One Photo Inkjet Printer (29 PPm, 9600x2400 DPI, Color, PC/Mac)

    PCWorld Rating

    The MP950 has a nice 3.6-inch LCD and great paper handling, and delivers quality text and photos. Scan results were mixed.

Canon Pixma MP950
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The Canon Pixma MP950 is the ultimate printer/scanner combo for the serious photo buff--and its price is seriously high-end as well.

A magnificent 3.6-inch color LCD screen flips up from the front of the scanner lid to reveal a tidy control panel. Two media slots behind a door on the front of the unit accept most digital memory cards, though you'll need to buy an adapter to read xD-Picture Cards.

Previews look wonderful on the screen, and you can easily perform a variety of editing and enhancement tasks without using a computer. And when you do transfer images to your PC, it happens quickly through the MP950's Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port.

A backlight built in to the lid works with the included film holder to let you scan up to 12 negatives or 8 slides at once. You can preview the images one at a time on the screen, perform enhancements, and choose which to print (just like you can with images read from a media card). When not in use, the film holder tucks neatly away behind the document-backing mat.

The MP950 has an infrared port that can receive photos sent from a mobile phone via infrared communication. This feature could become more useful as camera phones reach resolutions that actually print well. Of course, you also get the ubiquitous direct-print port for printing from PictBridge-ready digital cameras. The port also accepts an optional $80 Bluetooth adapter for printing from suitably equipped phones and PDAs, but unlike many photo printers, you can't print from images stored on a USB flash drive.

While the MP950 omits office features such as a built-in fax and an automatic document feeder, it does have excellent paper capacity. The dual paper trays let you store your most commonly used paper in a drawer set into the base of the unit, whereas paper types you change most often, such as different sizes of photo paper, stack in the upright sheet feeder at the rear. The integrated duplexer prints on both sides of the paper, pausing briefly for the first side to dry before printing on the reverse. Canon even sells double-sided photo paper that makes for nice album pages.

The red LEDs attached to the individual ink cartridges slowly flash when ink levels run low, and flash faster as they near empty. You get no fewer than seven different inks, including both dye and pigment blacks.

Our panel judged the text and graphics printed on plain paper among the best they had seen from an inkjet printer. Thanks in part to the pigment black, text had crisp, dark characters. The color photo showed fine detail and good contrast, with just a little posterization (lack of smooth gradient) where dark areas transitioned to solid black. Our challenging line-art sample was a puzzle because we saw areas of wide, wavy horizontal banding about an inch apart, and some faint diagonal interference patterns in blocks of closely spaced lines. Photos printed on glossy paper were superb, with bright, bold colors--although we felt that they were maybe a touch too dark overall.

In putting the scanner through its paces, we hit a problem. Its resolution of 3200 by 6400 dots per inch is one of the highest available. However, the huge amount of data at the maximum resolution was too much for the driver and we were unable to capture several of our test images. With Canon's permission, we reduced the resolution to 2800 by 2800 dpi for our tests, where we got good results for photos, but not for text documents. Operating the MP950 as a photocopier, we saw very good reproductions of both text and photos.

Although the quality of the MP950's printed text documents dipped, it printed them at an astounding 8.4 pages per minute, while plain-paper graphics appeared at 2.4 ppm. Our sample photo printed on letter-size glossy paper in just 47 seconds. Scanning was also highly competitive, with our 4-by-5-inch photo scanning in just 8 seconds (not including preview). Copying was the fastest we've seen from an inkjet multifunction deviceit output our test image in 14 seconds.

The Canon Pixma MP950 combines top-quality printing with many ways to capture images. It performs all tasks quickly, but its scan quality could be more consistent.

Paul Jasper

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The MP950 has a nice 3.6-inch LCD and great paper handling, and delivers quality text and photos. Scan results were mixed.

    Pros

    • Stunning 3.6-inch color LCD screen
    • Supports film scanning

    Cons

    • Lacks faxing and an ADF
    • Scan quality could be more consistent
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