The Canon Pixma MX372 is Canon's entry-level multifunction printer with a 30-page autodocument feeder, a 100-sheet paper input drawer, and a newly designed ink bay. A 30-page feeder on top that can scan multipage documents is also a rare feature for $80 all-in-ones, but its two-ink printing system and lack of networking connectivity limits my recommendation to homes that have light printing needs.
Design and features
The design of the Pixema MX372 is streamlined so that every drawer, tray, and port folds up flush into the self-contained body. The result is a very sleek matte-black exterior with all of the buttons you need to adjust the settings conveniently placed on the front panel. Since the printing is the default function, the rest of the hot keys (copy, fax, scan) are the largest on the panel along with backlit power and start buttons. There's also a blinking alarm for low ink or paper jams.
The MX372 is also the first batch of Canon all-in-one devices to use a new method for loading new ink cartridges. The company calls it "FastFront," and it lets you simply pull down a door behind the paper output tray to expose the inks. The new method makes cartridge replacement easier for people who leave documents in the top-loading autodocument feeder (ADF), as you no longer have to lift up the entire scanner lid in the process.
The simple two-ink cartridge system inside means this device isn't ideal for printing photos because of low-quality color output. The display on the MX372 is also simple, with only a two-line dot-matrix graphic display in the middle of the control panel; it's not as fancy as a color LCD, but it's adequate for all the day-to-day print, scan, and fax functionality. At the same time, expanding your budget just $20 opens a lot more options in terms of features that expand versatility. For example, the $100 Epson Stylus NX430 lets multiple users connect to it through a wireless network, and it also has a memory card reader on the front that can print photos directly from a storage card. Both of these features are missing from the MX372.
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 driver also automatically installs Canon's Easy Photo Print EX software, which showcases all the creative features of the MX372. It allows you to 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, but keep in mind that the quick-depleting two-ink cartridge bay can easily become a money pit.
The copy functions on the MX372 are relatively standard to 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 LCD menus. The scanner gives you two options to scan either single photos and documents or a stack of documents using the ADF.
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 you can attach it to an e-mail with the option to scan and convert to text using optical character recognition (OCR). 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.
Canon's HD Movie Print feature rewards adopters of the Canon hardware ecosystem with the ability 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.
The benchmark scores below reflect the MX372's average performance compared with that of other printers in the same sub-$100 price range. With the exception of the single-photo sheet test, it runs in the middle of the pack, neither falling behind nor printing exceptionally fast. It did lag slightly behind in the color graphics speed test at just 1.8 pages per minute (PPM), although the difference between the rest of the scores is so small that you won't likely notice it unless you're printing stacks of documents at a time.
|Presentation Speed (PPM)||Photo Speed (1 Sheet)||Color Graphics Speed (PPM)||Text Speed (PPM)|
I don't normally get my hopes up too much for the quality output test results on systems with only two cartridges, but I was surprisingly dissatisfied with the print quality of most of the jobs printed from the MX372. The black text I printed on standard 20-pound paper looked fine, but color text in fonts smaller than 12 points suffered heavy misregistration and even some rough edges in the colors on the lighter end of the spectrum.
Service and support
Canon offers a limited one-year warranty with the Pixma MX372. 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.
The MX372 will likely satisfy households where cost and features take precedence over output quality, but dedicated shooters and offices should seek out a more-capable machine to bring photos and presentations to a professional level.
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