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The Canon ImageClass MF3010 multifunction monolaser printer is best suited for dorm rooms and small offices that require a simple laser printer for outputting e-mails, Web articles, recipes, and other print jobs that don't require full-color output. Priced at $150, it's one of the least expensive overall values for an all-in-one laser (print, scan, copy), but the trade-off is that you don't get extra features like an autodocument feeder for hands-free scans, or the benefit of multiuser networking. Instead, the MF3010's best feature is its speed--it sailed through our performance tests with no pauses or jams, and we recommend it to anyone looking for a straightforward, dependable laser printer for personal use.
Design and features
The ImageClass MF3010 employs a new chassis shape for Canon, designed to take up the least amount of space on crowded desktops. It measures 14.7 inches wide, 10.9 inches deep, and 10 inches tall but saves extra room in dormancy with a collapsible paper output tray and a thin plastic door that unfolds to reveal the paper routing for the 150-sheet input drawer. The printer is also relatively lightweight at a little less than 17 pounds, but Canon also eases the load with two ridged inlets on the bottom that help with transportation and storage. The new modular design is easy to use and gets the printer out of the way until you need to use it.
Though it may be hard to decipher at first, the operation panel just below the scanner lid is intuitive to use once you understand the meaning of the different icons. To reduce its environmental footprint, Canon omits a physical manual in the box in favor of an online e-manual, where you can view a comprehensive breakdown of every icon in the panel, including indicators for paper jams, keys to reduce and add the number of copies, and a small 1-digit LED display that indicates the copy setting or status of the machine.
Unfortunately, the MF3010 has a few physical limitations compared with other laser printers. As stated earlier, the printer lacks both an autodocument feeder (ADF) and autoduplexing (double-sided printing), and you can only connect it to a single host computer using the USB port on the back (no cable is provided). Additionally, the copy machine is stunted by a 29-sheet maximum copying capacity, and the smaller scanner bay is limited to 8.5x11-inch prints at 600dpi by 600dpi.
To put it in perspective, the heftier HP LaserJet Pro M1212nf can scan up at 1,200dpi and make up to 99 copies in a session using the hands-free ADF. We recommend that printer instead if you need to hook up several computers to the same printer, but keep in mind that the M1212nf is $50 more and takes up significantly more space than the MF3010.
The MF3010 is compatible with almost all PCs running Mac and Windows operating systems, and all the drivers you need come on a single disc in the box. Installation is as simple and takes only a few minutes since there's no wireless detail to fill in, and you can also install two extra tools: MF Toolbox and Presto PageManager.
MF Toolbox is a crucial download if you plan to use the scanner or copy functions. It acts as a shortcut tool to specify the scanning mode, edit the resolution of a scan, adjust the document size, and change the file type to ultimately save your scanned image. The MF3010 also takes advantage of Canon's new ID card copy feature that lets you make duplicates of both sides of an ID card using the 100 percent zoom ratio in the Toolbox.
Presto PageManager is a third-party document management program that helps you organize your PDFs, text documents, and work files in a central repository on your computer. It also helps with recognizing characters in scanned documents, aka Optical Character Recognition (OCR), but we should note that the version on the disc is only compatible with Windows operating systems.
The MF3010 appears to trail the competition in our monochrome-text throughput test, but the difference between the scores is so slight that you likely won't notice a speed difference unless you're consistently printing multipage (20-plus) documents at a time. The ImageClass MF3010 can't match the Oki B431dn's impressive 33.86-page-per-minute (PPM) text speed score, but it was still able to exceed the Lexmark E460dw in the 10-page presentation test by more than 8 PPM. Additionally, the Canon MF3010 is exceptionally good about outputting continuous pages without the breaks or pauses that normally bog down the overall speeds of competing lasers.
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We were neither impressed nor surprised by the mediocre print quality of the Canon MF3010. Like most monochrome laser printers, it made excellent work of our text-based test documents--the various font sizes and typefaces all appear crisp with accurate clarity and legibility down to the smaller sizes, while blocks of color in the graphics-laden documents aren't quite as impressive. We noticed some degradation in the shading of some pictures, and while we don't expect amateur photographers to fall in love here, we wouldn't hesitate to use this printer for boardroom presentation handouts, college essays, or other professional documents.
Service and support
Canon backs the ImageClass MF3010 with a standard one-year warranty from the purchase date that includes repairs and replacement if the company deems your unit defective or necessary to rebuild. Canon also offers assistance with installation and operation of its printers by way of online troubleshooting and telephone support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
The ImageClass MF3010 is easy to set up and use as a daily output device for students and office professionals, but its single-user connection and lack of extra features limit its usability for high-volume printing. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this unit for budget-minded consumers, but there are better options available if you need more functionality and you're willing to spend more money.