You wouldn't buy a printer based on its design, but none the less, Canon's latest iteration of its Pixma range is well-built and quite nice looking with its silver and black styling. The front and rear paper trays, front corner card slot compartment and the control panel can all be when the printer is not in use. At 450x468x176mm, the footprint of the MP630 is smaller than multifunction printers of old, a bonus if you are cramped for desk space.
The control panel features a flip-up 2.5-inch colour TFT screen which is handy for previewing photos before printing directly from a memory card or USB. Navigation keys and a scroll wheel beneath the screen provide quick and easy ways to get to the tasks you want to undertake without needing to drill down through lots of sub menus. The scroll wheel is particularly useful when you want to print one specific image buried among hundreds of others on a memory card. Another nice touch on the control panel is a button that immediately shows the level of ink remaining in the various colour tanks.
The Pixma MP630 is Canon's "hero" mid-range multifunction printer. You'd have to step up to dearer models if wireless connectivity or scanning negatives is important to you, but the MP630 does feature automatic double-sided printing and direct printing to CDs and DVDs. These features help the MP630 to stand out somewhat from its direct competitors at this price point from and .
For those wanting to print without loading images onto a PC, the MP630 has a PictBridge port, one USB port and card slots for MemoryStick Duo, SD, xD and CompactFlash memory cards. This is all pretty standard on multifunction printers these days, but these features are often left off many of the budget printers now flooding the market.
Setting up the MP630 for the first time will take at least 30 minutes, as it uses five individual ink tanks and the printer needs some time to align the print head. Canon provides special paper for this process, but we're not sure where you'd get it when you subsequently need to change cartridges down the track. There's a quick set-up poster, but no printer manual per se; the software you load will install four short-cuts to the manual and application guides on your desktop. (We used parts of the desktop manual for our print tests and found out that the whole thing is a whopping 850 pages long. Canon is either kindly preserving our paper forests or hoping you'll use up lots of ink printing your own manual.)
For most home and school printing tasks, the MP630 should shoot A4 text pages in less than 15 seconds per page. One 21-page section of the manual, which contained a mix of black and colour text as well as many complex images and diagrams, took four minutes 28 seconds to print — an average of 12 seconds per page.
If you'd like to conserve paper and use its double-sided printing abilities, you'll have to be more patient. Duplexing 16 pages of the manual took seven minutes 15 seconds, or an average of 27 seconds per page. The print quality on all tests was sharp, clean and easy to read, even small font sizes.