Canon Pixma MX330 Inkjet MFP
At a Glance
Canon Pixma MX330
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You get decent features and speed for the price, but the inks are costly and the photos, pale.
Canon's Pixma MX330 color inkjet multifunction printer offers students and home-office users basic functionality for a low initial price. If you print a lot, however, look elsewhere, because this unit's inks can be expensive.
As is typical of inkjet MFPs priced in the vicinity of $100 (the Pixma MX330 costs $110 as of May 5, 2009), this model has a feature set suitable for low-volume use. It comes with a rear, vertical 150-sheet input tray and a front, flip-out 50-sheet output tray. A 30-page automatic document feeder unfolds from the top. The ADF can handle legal-size media (five sheets at a time), but the scanner platen fits letter-size sheets only. The scanner's lid telescopes to accommodate thicker media. Duplexing is a manual operation, and the Pixma MX330 offers helpful onscreen prompts to step you through the process. Connectivity is limited: A front port lets you print photos directly from a PictBridge-compliant device or save scanned files to a USB key drive; Canon sells a Bluetooth adapter for $50 more.
The control panel is fairly well designed. All of the buttons have coherent word labels, but the 1.8-inch color LCD for viewing menu options is small and would be easier to use if its navigation cues were clearer. Sometimes you need to push the up/down arrows and other times the Settings button to move through the menus. The included documentation covers the nuances well, but it didn't make intuitive sense to me when I was using the machine.
As you'd expect of a printer this inexpensive, speed isn't a selling point. At least Canon is honest about it, claiming a top text speed of 7.5 pages per minute, and a top graphics speed of 4.5 ppm. In our tests, the Pixma MX330's text speed actually exceeded expectations slightly, reaching 7.7 ppm, while our graphics samples topped out at 2.2 ppm. Plain text pages looked pretty crisp. Graphics and photos varied more. On plain paper, images appeared grainy and a bit off-color, with orangey flesh tones or purplish monochrome images, for example. On Canon's own paper, photos looked pale and sometimes streaky, even after repeated maintenance routines.
The ink costs for this model can build up in a hurry. The machine ships with a 220-page black cartridge and a 244-page tricolor cartridge consisting of cyan, magenta, and yellow compartments. The black cartridge costs $16 to replace--which works out to a whopping 7.3 cents per page, while the tricolor cartridge costs $21, or 8.6 cents per page. A four-color page would thus cost almost 16 cents--higher than average, but not the worst we've seen.
The Canon Pixma MX330 gives entry-level users a decent multifunction device to work with, but high-volume users would do well to choose a model with less-expensive consumables. Still shopping around? Here are a couple of competing models to check out: The HP OfficeJet J4680 has about the same sticker price and slightly better prices on its ink refills, along with different priorities--adding Wi-Fi, but skimping on paper handling.The HP Photosmart C5280 is a bit better than the Pixma MX330 at producing graphics and a bit worse at producing text, again at a similar sticker price.