The printer comes with a driver installation CD with a robust software suite that will definitely appeal to your creative side. The settings let you cycle between commonly used quality templates like standard, business, paper saving, and photo printing that automatically adjusts paper size and orientation, paper, and output quality. The driver lets you dive deeper into photo editing with options for vivid photos, borderless, monochrome effects, and even manual color adjustments, while the popup status monitor gives you a heads up view of the job status, document name, printer status, and gives you a rough idea of the current ink levels. We much prefer the MP870's status monitor over the MP330's, since the latter one doesn't keep track of print progress.
The package includes a driver CD with all the installation files you need to customize your prints. Within those settings, you can choose between commonly used templates like standard, business, paper saving, and photo printing that adjust the type of media, paper size, and source. Additionally, the driver provides you with adjustments for borderless printing, vivid photos, grayscale prints, and even manual color intensities by numeral increments. It also features a pop-up print status monitor that shows the current job, document name, device owner, status, and a graphical representation of the ink cartridge levels. Conveniently, this pop-up automatically disappears once the job in queue is finished printing, but we prefer status monitors that show us the page and progress of the print.
The driver automatically installs Canon's Easy Photo Print EX software onto your computer and has an array of creative features that let you print simple snapshot photos on the fly, create whole albums of artwork, print calendars with custom pictures, and custom stickers using Canon's proprietary sticker paper. The explorer window on the main page works just like a Windows Explorer pane, except we prefer HP's Solution Center layout that automatically scans and detects printable pictures on your hard drive for you.
Canon's creative suite is incredibly easy to use and it lets you make simple photo edits like red-eye correction, face sharpening, and blemish removal, which is great for users that don't want to deal with the hassle of editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
The copy functions on the MX870 are relatively standard for a multifunction device: you can make up to 99 copies at once and easily adjust the contrast and magnification of a document from 25 percent to 400 percent, all directly through the settings on the LCD menus. The scanner gives you two options to scan either single photos and documents or a stack of documents using the automatic document feeder. You also have several choices in terms of where you want to send a scanned document, such as directly to a PC as a JPEG, TIFF, BMP, or to a PDF file, or you can attach it to an e-mail with the option to scan and convert to text using optical character recognition. All scanned files are placed into your custom "My Box" directory, which displays all scanned and imported images as well as recently saved images onto the hard drive for future projects.
The Pixma MX870 performed adequately in all of our output speed tests, coming in second to the Lexmark Interact S605 in the graphics, presentation, and text speed tests. The only outlier is the photo speed test that took a dive while waiting for the ink to dry on paper in between jobs. Aside from this minor speed bump, the MX870 still earns our recommendation over the Lexmark Interact for all the advantages that come with an auto-document feeder.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The MX870 is equally competent with graphics quality as it is with output speeds. The text in our sample prints came out a rich black with fully formed characters and thick lines, and the color spread retains its quality as well. Our four inch by six inch photos are evenly saturated and smooth throughout color transitions, but we do have a few complains about graphics printed on plain paper.
While the details are all fairly sharp and detailed, we did notice some blotches in pictures with multiple color transitions. The result is a series of tarnished white specks spread across the image. These malformations are visible at arm's length, and while the specks don't infect images printed on Canon's glossy photo paper, it may be an issue for offices that print out presentations and graphics on plain paper.
Service and Support
Canon covers the Pixma MX870 with a standard one-year warranty. It provides toll-free phone support weekdays from 8 a.m. to midnight PT and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. E-mail support is available 24-7 via a Web-based form. Canon's standard online support options include downloadable drivers, software, manuals, and FAQs.
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