Canon Pixma MP470
At a Glance
Canon's Pixma MP470 has its quirks, but given the $100 price (as of 9/12/07) it's hard to complain. This compact machine offers a wide range of print, copy, and scan functions in a decently designed package.
Setup is easy, thanks to the inclusion of a poster illustrating basic steps and an automatic installation routine using the included CD. The software bundle includes a pair of useful, well-designed applications for editing photos and handling scanned images. Canon's Solution Menu dialog box gives you one-touch access to the printer's on-screen documentation, maintenance utilities, and help files. A My Printer applet installs itself in your Windows system tray and provides the printer queue, settings, and troubleshooting info. A quick-start guide and an HTML-based manual cover all the features thoroughly.
The Pixma MP470 performed satisfactorily in our tests. It processed plain-text pages at a competent 8.7 pages per minute (ppm). The deeply black, slightly fuzzy text was certainly readable, although curvy fonts looked feathery and closely spaced type seemed mushy. Graphics took longer to print--1.5 ppm to 4 ppm, about average overall--and looked decent on plain paper (short on detail, a little faded) but great on costlier Canon paper (bright, crisp). The device scans and copies quickly, and the copies in particular looked quite good. Ink cost per page (at 5 percent coverage per color) is reasonable: about 5 cents for black-only, or 29 cents for a page with all three colors plus black.
The Pixma MP470's sleek, black-and-silver cabinet exhibits an attention to external design that fails to extend to all of the components contained within. The input and output trays, which unfold for use, rattle a lot and bend easily. Shallow slots leading toward the cartridge bays do nothing to help you position a new cartridge correctly for insertion.
The control panel nestles discreetly in the top-right corner of the machine. Flip up a small panel, and you'll find a 1.8-inch LCD on the underside and an array of buttons on the panel beneath it. To Canon's credit, the buttons are clearly labeled and sensibly arranged. Major functions like scanning and copying get their own, distinctively marked buttons; their plentiful options appear on the LCD. The directional buttons for navigating these features, however, are so narrow that they're hard to press--and it's hard to tell whether you've actually pressed any of the buttons because they are set too shallow to provide adequate feedback.
The photo features on the MP470 are good for the price. Two media slots sit behind a little door on the front panel; they take CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD Card, SmartMedia, and xD-Picture Card. Insert a card and press the 'Memory Card' button on the control panel, and you can view photos on the LCD, print directly from the card, and more.
The Pixma MP470's design shortcomings should be easy for many people to forgive, considering everything the MFP offers for the price. Its print, scan, and copy functions are sound, and its software gives you lots of options.