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Canon's multifunction design has settled on units that are relatively low profile, both in that they're decked out in simple, fingerprint-prone black plastic, and that they're relatively flat. This is design measures in at only 148mm high and 8.2kg, making it fairly easy to place or move anywhere you'd care to.
The PIXMA MG7160 uses a touchscreen with lit panels for context sensitive buttons. It's an intelligent system that still pushes you toward the 3.5-inch colour LCD display, which is likewise touch-sensitive.
The MG7160 covers the basics of a multifunction device. You get printing, scanning and copying, but not faxing if you were looking at it from a business perspective.
Canon's big pitch with the MG7160 is that it's the fastest inkjet in its particular class, although direct comparison is a tricky business. Most vendors rate their devices using page per minute metrics that can be rubbery indeed, while Canon has for the past couple of years used images per minute (ipm) ratings.
We've generally found Canon's ipm ratings are more reflective in real world usage than ppm figures. Canon's specifications suggest that the MG7160 can manage 15ipm in black and 9.7ipm in colour, with a 4x6-inch photo print in around 21 seconds.
From a network perspective, the MG7160 supports both ethernet and Wi-Fi (b/g/n), with Canon's Cloud Link compatibility that uses Google Cloud Print services to enable just about any Internet-enabled device to print to the MG7160.
Like all printer manufacturers, Canon sells the MG7160 cheaply — technically it has no RRP in Australia, because Canon doesn't provide one — but makes its money on inkjet ink. Here you can get either regular or high yield cartridges.
We've seen the regular black cartridges online for around $18. Canon's expectation is that they should be good for around 300 pages, leading to a rough 6c per page print cost. The high yield version of the same cartridge runs around $22 with a 500 page yield, bringing the rough per page cost down to 4.4c. A full set of cartridges if you only bought the regular yield versions would quickly outstrip the likely purchase price of the MG7160, but again that's nothing new.
Setup of the MG7160 is nicely guided, right down to an onscreen prompt if you leave any of the orange securing tape on the printer. It is a somewhat lengthy procedure, however, with six individual ink cartridges to install, a lot of paper calibration and, in our tests, a firmware update to install before it was ready to print.
To test print speeds we connected via USB; while that's less convenient than Wi-Fi, which we did test for utility, it also reduces any network overheads that could alter page print speeds.
The MG7160 managed a single black full coverage page in 12 seconds, and fell just short of Canon's mark with an average of 13 pages printed per minute. Likewise, colour printing fell a little short of the mark — typically around 7ppm. That's still closer than many other inkjets get in terms of meeting manufacturer claims.
It couldn't match that with 4x6-inch photo prints, where Canon suggests a print speed of around 21 seconds. We couldn't get anywhere near that in our tests, with photos typically taking around 45 seconds to print. The one large upside there is that photo quality was excellent on every single print.
It's a real sign of the times that vendors are selling products of this quality for less than $200. The Canon PIXMA MG7160 is an excellent printer for most home and SOHO users, although as with all inkjets, it's not really about the upfront purchase price as much as it is the ongoing ink price.