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Editors' note: This review cannibalizes content from CNET's review of the Pixma MG2220, a printer with many of the same features.
The $80 Canon Pixma MG3220 is only $10 more than the Pixma MG2220, but the additional money goes far, netting you useful features like wireless connectivity, easy installation through Apple AirPrint, an autoduplexer for saving money on double-sided prints, and mobile snapshot printing from iOS devices using the Canon iEPP application.
You also get more support from the company, with a full one-year warranty compared with the month of service on the MG2220. Canon also generously provides the same software utility suite it bundles with its pricier models. If you're shopping for an output device to print mostly text, light graphics, and the occasional snapshot photo, the Canon Pixma MG3220 is a standout option with a generous balance of performance and features.
Setting up the Canon Pixma MG3220 is simple no matter how you choose to connect it to a computer, and the installation disc offers onscreen instructions that guide you through three connectivity options using either 802.11 b/g/n wireless, an Ethernet cable, or a simple USB cord.
You can choose Easy Install to grab everything, or pick Custom Install for a la carte features, including Easy-WebPrint EX for managing your online photos and My Image Garden, which organizes your photos before you print.
Canon keeps the costs low on the MG3220 by omitting an LCD screen, instead using a simple two-line LCD screen that displays basic information like the number of duplicates you want from the copier. The MG3220's minimal control panel includes single-function buttons for selecting media sizes, fit-to-page toggle, and black and color scanning options, but one thing to note is that the cockpit doesn't swivel up at an angle for variable visibility; you have to look down onto it, so you'll want to situate the printer lower than eye level for easy access. Still, in a worst-case scenario, you can always get to all the same shortcut features through the virtual options on the driver.
The MG3220 is also one of the first batch of Canon photo printers to use a new method for loading ink cartridges. The company calls it FastFront, and it lets you simply pull down a door behind the 100-sheet paper tray to expose the inks. The new method makes it easier to replace cartridges, and you don't have to lift up the scanner lid to do it.
The minimal two-ink cartridge system inside means this device isn't ideal for printing batch photos due to its limited color output. You'll see in the performance section of this review that the Pixma MG3220 still served up decent-quality snapshot pictures, but it's not their quality that should concern you -- high-frequency photo prints on the Best quality setting put you at risk of spending more money in the long term on cartridge refills than on the hardware itself.
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 software lets you adjust 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 I prefer status monitors that show the page number and progress of a print.
The copy functions on the printer are relatively standard for a multifunction: you can make up to 99 copies at once and easily adjust the contrast and magnification of a document from 25 to 400 percent, all directly through the settings on the driver menus. 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, to a PDF file, or attached to an e-mail with the option to scan and convert to text using optical character recognition (OCR). The printer places all scanned files 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.
Finally, Canon's HD Movie Print feature rewards adopters of the Canon hardware ecosystem with the capability to pull still snapshots out of videos shot with compatible HD video cameras. I tested the software with a Canon PowerShot S95 top-flight handheld camera and was impressed with the Canon Solution Menu EX software's step-by-step instructions.
The software lets you edit video images to prepare a clip for capture; grabbing still shots from the video is as simple as selecting a video snippet and either capturing a group of 10 frames or hitting the "capture" button to select single images. Once that's finished, you can also edit the image to reduce noise and sharpen images. Of course, the SD95 is only capable of 720p video resolution, so you'll see better performance out of a true 1080p digital SLR like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
Don't assume that the Pixma MG3220's low price means you'll be tapping your feet waiting for it to print your documents, presentations, and photos. It churned out average scores in both black and color jobs, though the Epson Stylus NX430 remains the best of the bunch by a large margin, printing 14.11 pages per minute (ppm) of text and 4.43 presentation pages a minute, more than double the speed of the rest.
Black text outputted on the Pixma MG3220 and printed on HP's own line of coated inkjet Premium paper reveals near-laser quality, an impressive feat for a two-cartridge printer. Canon raises the bar for both black and color performance with sharp, clean, and consistent quality -- gradients look smooth with decent color reproduction in the photo elements, especially taking into consideration its limited ability to display a wide gamut of color shades.
4x6-inch color photos are certainly worthy of a family album if printed on the aforementioned Premium photo paper, though some details appear grainy. Still, I'm satisfied with the amount of "pop" to the pictures I printed; just keep careful track of your ink consumption.
Service and support
The $10 jump from the Pixma MG2220 to the MG3220 is worthwhile for the full year of warranty service alone. Canon supports the Pixma MG3220 with a standard one-year limited warranty program that includes InstantExchange and a year of toll-free phone support. In addition, the product page for the printer features frequently asked questions, registration, recycling information, driver downloads, and other information.
The Pixma MG3220 gets in under the $100 price point with an impressive list of features that includes Apple AirPrint compatibility, autoduplexing, and Canon's new FastFront ink loader to take the headaches out of cartridge installation. If you're restricted to an $80 budget but don't want to sacrifice performance to save cash, the Canon Pixma MG3220 is a worthwhile investment.
|Presentation speed (ppm)||Photo speed (1 Sheet)||Color graphics speed (ppm)||Text speed (ppm)|