Canon Color ImageClass MF8450c Color Laser Multifunction Printer
At a Glance
The Canon Color ImageClass MF8450c color laser multifunction printer offers mediocre performance for a high up-front cost. Though some aspects of its design are quite good, they don't give it enough positives to compete with capable, lower-cost competition.
You'd expect a machine as expensive as this one to have a lot of horsepower, but the MF8450c doesn't, and its output quality is only sometimes worth the wait. Canon claims a top engine speed of just 17 pages per minute; and in our tests, even plain black text printed at only 13.2 ppm, though the results were excellent, with perfectly drawn lines and arcs, and delicate fonts down to small point sizes. The fastest color-image time was 2.6 ppm, but the print quality in this case was disappointing: Colors looked washed-out, fleshtones were exceedingly pink; and dark hair showed blue highlights, as in a comic book. By contrast, scanner and copier output was fast and displayed natural-looking (albeit dark) colors.
The successfulness of the MF8450c's design varies. Paper handling includes a 250-sheet main input tray, a 100-sheet multipurpose tray, and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder. The tiltable control panel displays most options on the 3.5-inch color LCD. Though a few buttons have confusing double functions--one is labeled "Status Monitor/Cancel," for example--most are straightforward. Two side USB ports let you scan straight to a key drive--a nice convenience. Replacing the consumables is easy but risky. The front panel swings open to expose the vertically stacked cartridges, but the transfer belt lies belly-up inside, waiting for some butterfingers to drop a cartridge on it. At least Canon avoids another potential snag: The cartridge slots are not keyed, but the LCD will flash an alarm if you place one incorrectly--and you can't print until you fix the problem. The scanner works only over ethernet; when it's online, it disables all other functions. Adding to my confusion, the Starter Guide mentions a scanning application that isn't included.
To its credit, the Color ImageClass MF8450c ships with full-size toner cartridges, and their generous capacities translate into low replacement costs. The 6000-page black toner cartridge costs $140 (2.3 cents per page); each 4000-page color costs $135 (3.4 cents per color per page), for an aggregate cost of just 12.5 cents per four-color page. Still, the similar-size, high-yield cartridges designed for both the Brother MFC-9450CDN and the Ricoh Aficio SP 232SF have even lower per-page costs--and those machines are cheaper, too ($600 and $799, respectively, as of April 6, 2009, versus the Canon's price of $999).
Canon's Color ImageClass MF8450c prints some of the best plain text we've ever seen and has a number of attractive features. It's just too slow, too expensive, and too quirky to earn our recommendation.