The cost of All-in-One (AIO) printers is falling drastically, and the Canon Pixma MP495 is one of the first to break triple digits with the $80 Pixma MP495. The device can print, scan, and copy wirelessly with the help of its 802.11b/g wireless feature, and we're also a fan of its glossy black executive aesthetic. Granted, the print speed needs a speed boost, and the lack of an LCD screen on the front panel became irritatingly apparent during our lab testing, but we think it's a worthwhile tradeoff for $80. Amateur photographers and business professionals will get more mileage out of the step-up models, but the MP495 delivers adequate results that meet the needs of the casual printer user.
The Pixma MP495 is part of Canon's most recent round of consumer-level all-in-one printers and receives an updated look that's both visually stunning and functional at the same time. In contrast to last year's silver-and-black color scheme, the new lineup features a glossy black finish that repels fingerprints and gives the printer an executive air.
Physically, the build retains the rounded edges and the small footprint at a manageable 18 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 6 inches tall, but the MP495 keeps the cost low by departing from the classic LCD screen we saw on previous models, in favor of a side panel with buttons for typical printing functions like start, stop, color vs. black and white, toggling between plain and photo paper sizes, and, of course, a power button.
There's also a dedicated scan button, although we're unsure why Canon doesn't also have one for copying. The lack of an LCD screen can be annoying if your printing habits lean toward multiple copies and making multiple settings adjustments, and during testing we found ourselves wishing for a preset favorites button that would allow you to autoprogram commonly used settings. Snapshot photographers will also loathe the lack of a memory card reader, a feature that is commonly found in most of the entry-level printers that come through CNET. That said, we stick by our recommendation of the MP495 if you plan to use it intermittently--frequent printers should consider a higher-level model with a display and extra features like an auto-document feeder for hands-free scans.
Two opposing trays control the paper handling: the input tray folds out of the top and can hold up to 150 sheets of plain 8.5-inch-by-11-inch paper, and an angled output tray on the bottom can only corral 50 sheets of paper but conveniently folds up into the device while not in use.
The scanner lid props open with a thin plastic arm to reveal a small two-ink cartridge bay underneath: one dye-based tricolor and another pigment black cartridge. Unfortunately, the trade-off for a printer with an inexpensive initial price tag is the cost of ink that you'll need to purchase more frequently than a pricier model with a five- or even six-ink cartridge bay that separates the colors. Canon sells compatible cartridges for the MP495 at $20.99 for color and $15.99 for black, but you can save money in the long term by purchasing extra-large-capacity Canon cartridges that sell at a discounted price.
The Pixma MP870 prints, scans, and copies over a USB 2.0 connection by default, but you can also connect to a computer wirelessly with the built-in 802.11b/g print server inside. The easiest way to do this is by first establishing a wired connection, then adding wireless access by proxy, as indicated in the simple manual. Unfortunately, you can't share the printer over a wired network, as the MP495 lacks an Ethernet port.
The printer comes with a driver installation CD that lets you 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.