For low volumes of printing, the Pixma MG4220 fits nicely into a home office. However, black ink is expensive, absurdly so with the standard-capacity cartridges.
The $130 Canon Pixma MG4220 color inkjet multifunction will easily handle the needs of a home office, but its ink costs are higher than average, and they’re ludicrously expensive if you make the mistake of purchasing the low-capacity PG-240 and CL-241 cartridges. On the other hand, the unit provides nice output, makes quick work of business documents and copies, and automatically duplexes—a nice feature set for the price.
The Pixma MG4220 is easy to set up via Wi-Fi or USB. The control panel, unfortunately, is still not so simple to use. On this model, Canon continues its practice of positioning three buttons under the LCD (a 2.5-incher on the Pixma MG4220) to perform certain actions, rather than letting you use the perfectly adequate four-way cursor control and OK button. Hopping back and forth among all the buttons is both pointless and aggravating. Comparatively, the software is a model of efficiency, and the new quick menu for common tasks is easy on the eye. The MFP provides full support for scanning, copying, and Web printing.
The Pixma MG4220’s 100-sheet input tray and 50-sheet output tray make it strictly a low-volume printer. The fact that it will automatically refeed the paper to print on the other side (automatic duplexing, in other words) is a boon. You’ll find no automatic document feeder for the letter/A4-size scanner on the top of the Pixma MG4220, but the lid telescopes a full inch to accept thicker materials. The MFP’s card slot supports direct photo printing from SD Card and Memory Stick media.
Judging from our tests, the Pixma MG4220 is easily fast enough for a home office when printing and copying business documents. Monochrome pages exited at about 6.8 pages per minute on the PC and 6.6 ppm on the Mac, while copies arrived at a sprightly 6.4 ppm. Photos, on the other hand, printed rather slowly. Snapshot-size (4-by-6-inch) photos printed at a little under 3 ppm to plain paper, but at a rate of only about 0.6 ppm on glossy paper. Full-page color photos rendered to glossy paper at a rate of 0.3 ppm, about average for an entry-level inkjet MFP.
The output from the Pixma MG4220 is good, but typical current-generation Canon. At default settings, text is sharp and black, monochrome graphics have a slight purple tint, and plain-paper color graphics could be a tad darker and use more contrast. At the printer’s best setting, text is good enough for business documents, though extremely slow to arrive compared with default settings. Color photos look very nice, with our only minor complaint being the slight orange tint. Said tint, however, does give the pictures a friendly, warm vibe.
Now for the bad news. Ink costs for the MG4220 are high in general, but what you absolutely do not want to do is purchase the 180-page PG-240 black cartridge or CL-241 unified color cartridge (the same kinds of cartridges that also ship with the unit): At 10.6 cents per page for black and 13.9 cents per page for color, their costs are exorbitant. The story gets better—slightly—from there. The 300-page XL black costs $21, or 7.0 cents per page, and the 600-page XXL black costs $38, or 6.3 cents per page.
The XL unified color cartridge is more affordable: At $30 for 400 pages, you pay 7.5 cents per page for all three colors. That assumes usage similar to the industry standard employed to measure page yield. If you use a lot more of any one color, you’ll need to replace the entire cartridge even if plenty of ink remains for the other colors. A four-color page printed with the XL color cartridge and the XXL black cartridge costs a slightly lower-than-average 13.8 cents.
The Canon Pixma MG4220 has decent output and sufficient speed for most home offices, and is one of the cheaper MFPs with automatic duplexing. However, you do have alternatives. The HP Photosmart 5520 has cheaper inks, and the Brother MFC-J625DW has an automatic document feeder as well.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.