Canon Pixma MX350 Offers Good Features for the Price, but Ink Costs Are High
At a Glance
The Canon Pixma MX350 color inkjet multifunction printer (for printing, scanning, copying, and faxing) offers a good assortment of features and capabilities for an affordable $150 (as of June 2, 2010). Though its ink costs are high, it's a better deal than the lower-priced HP Officejet 4500 Wireless, which has similar strengths and a few more weaknesses.
The Pixma MX350 is easy to install and use. You can connect it via USB, ethernet, or Wi-Fi. Canon bundles a multitude of useful scanning and printing apps with the Pixma MX350; you can choose to install all, none, or some of them during the setup routine. The clearly labeled control panel includes buttons to summon major functions. The 2.5-inch color LCD shows menu options and also previews photos. A round, four-way rocker button with a perimeter scroll wheel simplifies navigation.
The sturdy chassis has beveled edges that make the unit look less boxy. A 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) folds out from the top; a letter-size flatbed scanner is situated beneath it. All media types load into the vertical rear input slot, which has a plain-paper capacity of 100 sheets. In front is a 50-sheet output tray, along with CF, MS Duo, and SD media-card slots behind a small door. The MFP also has a USB/PictBridge port. Canon sells a Bluetooth adapter (BU-30) for $50.
The Pixma MX350's performance is acceptable for light office duty. The MFP's plain-text printing speed was consistent across PC and Mac platforms, at 5.7 pages per minute. On the PC, 4-by-6-inch color photos printed on letter-size media at 1.7 ppm. On the Mac, a near-letter-size image took 2.5 minutes to print (that's a rate of about 0.3 ppm); a 7.5-by-9.9-inch photo at 600 dots per inch scanned in 55 seconds; a 4-by-6-inch photo at 1200 dpi scanned in 90 seconds; and a single page of text copied in 21 seconds (a rate of 2.8 ppm).
The quality of the Pixma MX350's printing was good for an inkjet MFP. Text and lines were impressively sharp--better than what we saw on the similar Canon Pixma MX340. The bright color palette resulted in an orange tint to fleshtones, however. Scans were dark at default settings, but copies looked quite rich, with deep blacks and smooth colors.
The Pixma MX350's costs per page are higher than average. The MFP's standard-size supplies include a 200-page PG-210 black cartridge ($16, or 7.3 cents per page) and a 244-page CL-211 unified color cartridge ($22, or 9.0 cents per page). A four-color page would cost 16.3 cents. The high-yield options are also expensive: a 401-page PG-210 XL black cartridge ($22, or 5.5 cents per page), and a 349-page CL-211 XL color cartridge ($27, or 7.7 cents per page), making for a 13.2-cent, four-color page. If your print volume is low, these costs may be tolerable; but if you plan to print a lot, a model with cheaper inks will cost you less in the long run.
The Canon Pixma MX350 gives small-office and home-office users a versatile set of features for an affordable up-front price. But anyone who prints more than a few pages a day should look for a model with lower-cost consumables. The Canon Pixma MX870, for instance, costs $50 more than the Pixma MX350, but offers less expensive inks, plus a second input tray and an automatic duplexer.