Canon Pixma MP280: High-Quality Output in a Bare-Bones MFP
At a Glance
Epson Artisan 835 Multifunction Printer
The no-frills MP280 multifunction printer may fall short on features, but its speed and print quality are as good as you’ll find on pricier models.
At just $70 (as of August 20, 2010), the Canon Pixma MP280 color inkjet multifunction printer (print/copy/scan) is priced to tempt budget-minded users. It offers impressive output quality, but its minimal features and higher-than-average ink costs mean that only low-volume users need apply.
The Pixma MP280's speed is middling. On a PC, plain-text pages averaged 5.6 pages per minute, and photos came out at 1.5 ppm. Its text speed was identical on a Mac, but the higher-resolution photo we used in that test understandably took longer. Scanning and copying were slower than average.
Where the Pixma MP280 really shines is in the quality of its output. At default settings on plain paper, text looked nicely black and very smooth, but photos appeared too orangey; the effect disappeared when we switched to Canon's own photo paper. Color copies were precise and vivid.
There's no doubt that the Pixma MP280 is designed for low-volume use. It has neither an automatic document feeder for the scanner nor automatic duplexing for the printer, and it sports only a single 100-sheet, vertical paper feed in the rear. Though it comes with manual duplex help for PC users, Mac users get nothing. The software is the same capable printing/scanning/editing bundle you get with Canon's more-expensive units. The control panel's buttons are labeled, but the bulk of communication relies too heavily on a single-digit LED and a small array of indicator lights; their codes and flashing are impossible to understand unless you consult the on-screen manual.
Inks are expensive, especially black. The standard-size, 220-page black costs $16, or 7.3 cents per page. The 224-page, tri-chamber color cartridge costs $21, or 9.4 cents per page. A four-color page would cost an above-average 16.6 cents. The high-yield inks offer little relief: The $22, 401-page black is a pricey 5.5 cents per page, while the $27, 349-page color cartridge costs 7.7 cents per page. A low-volume user might be able to tolerate such costs.
The Canon Pixma MP280 has a price to please students or other monetarily challenged shoppers--and it produces output worth showing around. Just don't expect much from the features, or the ink pricing.