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Canon Pixma MX340
The Canon Pixma MX340 color inkjet multifunction printer (with print, scan, copy, and fax capabilities) looks like a bargain ($100 as of June 1, 2010) until you factor in its pricey inks. If you don't print much, however, this machine offers just enough of everything else to enable a small or home office to get by. It's definitely a better deal than the HP Officejet 4500 Wireless, which has similar strengths and a few more weaknesses.
The Pixma MX340's two standout features are Wi-Fi connectivity, which requires a temporary USB connection during setup but is otherwise painless; and a 30-sheet automatic document feeder. The configuration also includes a letter-size flatbed scanner; a vertical, 100-sheet, rear input slot; and a front, foldout, 50-sheet output tray. The front control panel's buttons for primary functions are clearly labeled. You use two arrow buttons to navigate menu items on the one-line, monochrome LCD. We had a hard time reading the LCD in dim lighting conditions, and the viewing angle is rather narrow. A backlight would have helped immensely. If you're looking for a color LCD, media card readers, or ethernet, check out the $150 Canon Pixma MX350, which is otherwise similar.
Canon bundles a plethora of useful scanning and printing programs with the Pixma MX340. The abundance of software could be overwhelming, except that Canon makes it easy to choose between loading everything upon installation or cherry-picking what you want. Uninstalling is easy, too.
In our tests, the Pixma MX340 delivered adequate performance. Its plain-text printing speed was consistent across PC and Mac platforms, at 5.8 pages per minute and 5.7 ppm, respectively. On the PC, 4-by-6-inch color photos on letter-size media printed at a rate of 1.7 ppm. On the Mac, a near-letter-size image took 2.5 minutes to print (which works out to about 0.3 ppm); a 7.5-by-9.9-inch photo scanned at 600 dots per inch in 55 seconds; a 4-by-6-inch photo scanned at 1200 dpi in 90 seconds; and a single page of text copied in 21 seconds (a rate of 2.8 ppm).
Print quality was fairly good: Ttext samples were pure black, though a little fuzzy around the edges. Color images were bright, but an orange bias made some fleshtones look unnatural, and textures had an overall light graininess. Color scans tended to be dark and lost some detail in shadowy areas; in other respects, however, they looked quite nice.
The Pixma MX340's ink costs per page are higher than average, especially for black ink. The unit'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, you might be able to weather these costs; but if you plan to print a lot, step up to the Canon Pixma MX870 or another model that uses less expensive inks.
The Canon Pixma MX340 does everything needed of an MFP, at a bare-bones level--and at a very low entry price. But if you do a lot of printing, you'll be better off in the long run with a model whose inks are more affordable.
Canon Pixma MX340
Speed and print quality are decent, but the pricey black ink limits this unit to low-volume home use.
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Low purchase price
- Color scans tend to be dark
- Black ink is expensive
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