The Canon Pixma MP500 Photo All-in-One is a combination four-color inkjet photo printer, flatbed scanner, and copier. This multifunction also lets you tinker with pictures with or without a computer. Designed for families and photo hobbyists, the MP500 doesn't have the fax machine offered by more office-centric all-in-ones, such as the or the . Instead, the MP500 combines solid printing, scanning, and copying skills with built-in camera card readers, a PictBridge port, and enough paper trays to keep photo paper in stock at all times. We like its design and output quality better than those of rivals such as the and the HP Photosmart 3310. If you'd like all that but want to scan slides and film negatives, too, the Canon MP760 is a better fit. The Canon Pixma MP500 is low, wide, and smooth, like an Italian sports car. It measures 18 by 17 by 8 inches (WDH) and weighs 21 pounds. This multifunction is made of silver faux-aluminum plastic with a glossy black plastic top. On the control panel, you'll find buttons for copying and scanning alongside a tilting LCD screen that displays menus and the contents of memory cards, as well as five menu navigation buttons. Photo-specific buttons allow you to tweak and print photos and contact sheets without a PC. We like the dual-LED icon next to the feed switch, which helps you toggle between the paper trays. Raise the scanner lid to see the MP500's five ink tanks, which shine red when full, flash slowly when low on color, and blink when empty.
The Canon Pixma MP500's built-in memory card slots accept most common camera storage cards, but you'll need an adapter to use xD Picture, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Duo Pro, and MiniSD cards. The Canon Pixma MP500 is simple to set up and to install, as the clearly labeled drivers and software load automatically. Bundled apps include MP Navigator, Easy-Photo Print, Easy-Web Print, ScanSoft OmniPage SE, and ArcSoft Photo Studio. OmniPage turns paper documents into digital files, and ArcSoft Photo Studio provides a well-rounded menu of photo-editing tools.
The MP500 connects to PCs or Macs with a USB 2.0 cable that you'll need to buy yourself. For wireless printing, Canon sells its BU-20 Bluetooth adapter for $80. If you have a cell phone with an IrDA port and support for IrMC version 1.1, you can print small JPEG files on the MP500 wirelessly from your phone.
Unlike most all-in-one inkjets in the $200 price range, the Canon MP500 prints automatically on two sides of a page, which helps to save paper and to create booklets. This is a handy feature for a small office, but a small business that needs built-in faxing should opt for a model such as the or the . The Canon MP500 uses four dye-based inks in black, cyan, magenta, and yellow and a larger size of pigment-based black ink. The MP500 uses the pigment black for text printing, and the cartridge currently costs $16.25 to replace; the other cartridges are $14.25 each. Based on Canon's cartridge yield numbers, we estimate that ink costs for a page of black text will be an affordable 2 cents. The Canon Pixma MP500 printed text at 7.08 pages per minute (ppm), slightly slower than the fastest inkjet multifunction we've seen, the . The MP500 took almost 2 minutes to print our color, full-page test photo, more than twice as fast as Dell 962, though less than half as fast as the HP Photosmart 3310. The MP500 turned in average scanning speeds and photocopied our grayscale text document faster than many rival all-in-ones.
|Text speed||Photo speed||Grayscale scan speed||Color scan speed||Copy speed|
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|
On our graphics test print, curves were smooth and sharply rendered, but we saw quite a bit of banding in gradients, especially in the grayscale. Our test photo, which prints using the driver's photo settings, delivered very good color fidelity and detail, with only slightly cyan-biased skin tones. However, the photos printed as part of our graphics test, in which most printers use settings more suited to PowerPoint than to photos, rendered skin tones with too much magenta and gray tones with too much cyan. The Canon Pixma MP500 comes with a one-year limited warranty and a year of toll-free telephone support, available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on nonholiday Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. We'd appreciate some Sunday hours to help weekend hobbyists. If your MP500 fails during the warranty period, Canon will exchange it for a working unit within a couple of business days and pay the shipping both ways, a nice touch, though an extended warranty costs a pricey $95. The MP500 comes with a 148-page printed user guide and an onscreen manual on CD-ROM that covers driver and software use and how to print from Bluetooth devices. More help is available at Canon's Web site, which offers FAQs, troubleshooting topic lists, and an e-mail link to tech support.