The Canon Pixma MP160 is the entry-level model of Canon's all-in-one photo printer line. At a mere $90, it's a bargain for a machine that prints, scans, and copies, especially given its surprisingly good print quality. (Unfortunately, we can't say the same for its scan quality.) Befitting its budget price, the printer is missing some features, including media card slots and an LCD screen. As much as we like this printer for both quality and value, we don't recommend buying it: for a mere $10 more, you can upgrade to the Pixma MP180. The MP180 is basically the same printer (same speed and print quality), but it comes with both memory card slots and a two-line monochromatic LCD screen, as well as more configuration options for each task. If you want a good entry-level photo-centric all-in-one printer, skip the MP160 and buy the Canon Pixma MP180.
The scanner platen is big enough to hold originals up to A4 size, and the lid's hinges rear back to accommodate thick originals, such as textbooks. A PictBridge port on the front of the printer lets you print photos directly from a PictBridge-compatible digital camera or a digital video camera, without touching your PC. But you can't preview them on the printer because it lacks an LCD screen. Also missing are media card slots, but you can get them on the MP180, which costs just $10 more. The MP180 also features a two-line LCD, but you can't preview pictures on it.
The MP160's paper-handling options are limited. A paper feeder with adjustable paper guides folds out from the rear of the unit and holds up to 100 sheets of plain paper. A simple tray folds out from the front of the printer and serves as the output tray. It lacks an extension flap, so legal-size pages may fall out if you're not paying attention. Within the output tray is a lever that slides from side to side to adjust the distance between the printhead and the paper. For most paper types, you'll keep the lever to the left; for envelopes and T-shirt transfers, move it to the right.
The control panel is laid out on a shelf that juts out from the front of the printer. The buttons cover just the basics: a single button that lets you tell the printer whether you're printing on letter-size plain, letter-size photo, or 4x6 photo paper; a plus button to increase the number of copies; a fit-to-page button that will automatically reduce or enlarge copies to fit the paper size; a scan initiation button; and black and color start buttons; as well a stop/reset button.The Canon Pixma MP160 has a limited feature set that will quickly leave you wanting more, which you can get for a mere $10 extra with the MP180. The MP160 copy options let you fit to page and make multiple copies in one go, though with an odd limitation: using the plus button, you can increase the number of copies to 9. An additional press of the plus button and the LED reads F, which apparently means 20 copies, so you can't specify, say, 10 or 15 copies; you'll have to initiate two copy cycles. Other common features missing from the MP160--scaling, adjusting the image quality, and making borderless copies--can be found on the MP180.
Pressing the Scan button will launch Canon's MP Navigator utility on your PC, which lets you customize your scan job by indicating the type of document, changing the scan resolution, and designating what you want to do with the scan: save to PC, save as various file types, or attach to e-mail. You can also use the included optical character recognition software to scan documents into an editable form.