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Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you should be relegated to buying some cheap printer that can't function outside of simple text documents. If you need a device that can fax, copy, scan, and print on a wide variety of media, the Canon Pixma MX330 will make a perfect addition to your home office. At $110, this all-in-one boosts productivity by adding an automatic document feeder and a full color 1.80-inch LCD. Although we have complaints about the output quality and missing features, we can't argue with the bundle of features and the excellent value you'll get in the Canon Pixma MX330.
Design and features
The design of the Pixma MX330 is streamlined so that every drawer, tray, and port folds flush into the body. The result is a very sleek matte black and battleship gray exterior with all of the buttons you need to adjust the settings conveniently placed on the front panel. Since the default function is to print, the rest of the hot keys (copy, fax, and scan) are the largest on the panel, surrounded by the power button and two small LEDs to indicate usage and a blinking alarm for low ink or paper jams.
The bright 1.8-inch LCD screen sits prominently in the middle of the control panel, and while we're normally used to adjusting the angle of the screens on Pixma printers, we're thankful that Canon includes an LCD at all in this price range. The rest of the controls include shortcut buttons for "menu," "settings," "back," a directional pad and a corresponding "OK" button for navigating through menus, fax shortcuts for quality, coded dialing, and redials, as well as three more buttons for black and color copies and a "stop print" button for emergency cancels. Overall, the MX330 measures a maneuverable 7.8 inches tall by 18.1 inches wide by 16.2 inches deep.
Most all-in-ones typically don't include auto-document feeders at this price point, so we're happy to see that Canon includes one to make it much easier to scan or copy stacks of documents. The automatic document feeder can only handle up to 30 pages at a time, so the majority of your blank media goes through the rear input tray that holds 100 pages, and a plastic guide folds out of the rear tray to cajole larger media. Output, on the other hand, is a much more simplified process: all outbound prints just pop out of the front drawer onto an angled lip that folds out of the main body. We're disappointed to see that the MX330 doesn't include a multimedia card reader for direct prints, but you can hook up a digital camera directly to the printer through the PictBridge USB port on the bottom of the unit.
The top of the printer lifts open to reveal the standard 8.5-inch-by-11-inch scanner bay, but you can also pop that open and access the two ink cartridge bay below. To keep costs low, the MX330 only uses two ink cartridges: one for black and one for tricolors. While we prefer five or sometimes even six separate cartridge tanks to cut down on the cost of consumables, it makes sense a printer at this conservative retail price only has two tanks. If you plan to use your printer for more snapshot photo prints or graphical documents, a printer with separate ink cartridge bays will prove more economical.
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 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, but we prefer status monitors that show us the page and progress of the print.
The driver also automatically installs Canon's Easy Photo Print EX software onto your computer that flaunts all the creative features of the MX330. It lets you print simple snapshot photos on the fly, create whole albums of artwork, print calendars with custom pictures, and custom stickers using Canon's proprietary sticker paper. The explorer window on the main page works just like a Windows Explorer pane, except we prefer HP's Solution Center layout that automatically scans and detects printable pictures on your hard drive for you. Canon's creative suite is incredibly easy to use, however, and even lets you make simple photo edits like red-eye correction, face sharpening, and blemish removal, which is great for users who don't want to deal with the hassle of third-party editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
The copy functions on the MX330 are relatively standard for a multifunction device: you can make up to 99 copies at once and easily adjust the contrast and magnification of a document from 25 percent to 400 percent, all directly through the settings on the LCD menus. The scanner gives you two options to scan either single photos and documents or a stack of documents using the automatic document feeder. 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, or to a PDF file, or you can attach it to an e-mail with the option to scan and convert to text using optical character recognition. All scanned files are placed 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.
As you can tell from the benchmarks, the MX330 demonstrated only average speed across the board. It jumped ahead most noticeably in the color text speed test at 5.54 page per minute in a tie with the HP OfficeJet J6480, that's almost two times the cost of the Canon. On the other hand, the MX330 suffered a bit in the photo speed test at just 0.93 pages per minute, just ahead of the J6480 that came in last with only 0.83 pages per minute. Since this isn't a full-blown photo printer, we can forgive the MX330 for dropping the ball on the photo print speed, since the rest of the scores are at least average or faster than the competition, specifically the Kodak ESP5 that continually performed the slowest in the group.
|Presentation speed||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed||Text speed|
We have several complaints about the output quality of the MX330. We printed all photo and graphical documents on the paper that Canon provided and we were still largely dissatisfied with the results. Black text on standard 20-pound paper appears nicely darkened, but a closer inspection reveals characters with jagged edges and step-downs, fuzziness in small font sizes, and harsh contrasts in color blends. In addition, our color graphics prints came out grainy with a dull hue marring the images. Luckily, our 3 inch by 5 inch photo turned out OK with sharper lines and an even saturation, but the skin tones in the portrait shots still couldn't shake the dreary palette. As stated, the MX330 will definitely satisfy households where cost and robust features are more of an issue than just output quality, but dedicated shooters should seek out a more capable machine to bring their photos to life.
Service and support
Canon offers a limited one-year warranty with the Pixma MX7600. The company also offers toll-free phone support and 24-7 e-mail support, should you run into any problems. Extra features including online manuals, drivers, FAQs, and ink cartridge order forms can be found on Canon's Web site.
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