Canon Color ImageClass MF8350Cdn: Nicely Priced MFP Has Trade-Offs
At a Glance
The Canon Color ImageClass MF8350Cdn color laser multifunction printer offers a tempting purchase price ($699 as of 12/09/2009) and some good features. Like most low-cost machines we've tested, however, it has trade-offs--including pricey black toner and uneven photo quality.
Paper handling is a strong suit. Automatic duplexing comes standard; even the higher-ranked (and cheaper) Brother MFC-9450CDN lacks that feature. The automatic document feeder (ADF) and multipurpose tray (MPT) both take up to 50 sheets, and the main tray takes up to 250. A second 250-sheet tray costs $199, according to Canon (some third-party prices we found were higher). Legal paper causes the main tray to jut out the front; Canon provides a partial dust cover. The 125-sheet output tray lurks, cavelike and dark, below the scanning unit.
The machine's control panel could be better designed. The primary function buttons, such as Copy, Fax, and Scan, are easy to locate above the five-line monochrome LCD. The secondary buttons below are all labeled, but they look similar--and there are a lot of them. More grouping and color-coding would make things easier to find.
Speed and output quality varied widely in our tests. Printing plain text, the MF8350Cdn managed a middling rate of 11 pages per minute (ppm), but the quality was stellar. Printing photos or handling copies and scans was faster; the results, however, could be disappointing. Skin tones on color images looked pale and jaundiced; color depth and detail were lacking as well. Scanned photos looked dark and muddy, and scanned text appeared fuzzy.
Toner prices are a little high. At the time of this review, a 3400-page replacement black-ink cartridge cost $127, or a pricey 3.7 cents per page. The 2900-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $122 each, or a midrange 4.2 cents per color, per page. A page with all four colors would cost 16.4 cents. The unit ships with starter-size supplies (1200-page black and 1400-page color cartridges). Cartridges nestle into a tray that slides out from the printer's innards. They're not keyed, but an error message arises if you mislocate one of them.
I liked the supporting documentation. On-screen menu selections include animated instructions for many tasks. A printed Starter Guide and Basic Operations Guide cover most of what you need. The full, HTML-based guide--viewable from the included CD or downloadable from Canon's Website--is thorough and well organized.
The Canon Color ImageClass MF8350Cdn has better paper handling and expandability than many similarly priced machines. Even with its various shortcomings, it's still a worthy choice for a small office with moderate print volume and basic graphics needs.