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.