The Canon Pixma MX850 comes with a 188-page quick start guide, a decrease of 34 pages from the previous MX830 model. The guide is fairly easy to follow. It's divided up by tasks: copying, printing, scanning, faxing and other troubleshooting and information. Also included is an on-screen manual that is more engaging with more detailed and color graphics. Essentially, the information is the same. The on-screen manual can be reached through the "get help on your canon product or software" bar from the Solution Menu, which will be discussed later in the Driver and Administration section.
Out of the Box (6)
The package comes with the printer itself, document kit, setup instructions, Leopard information sheet (for Apple users with the latest version of MacOS), network setup guide, quick start guide, software setup and user's guide CD-ROM, ink tanks, PGI-5 (black), CLI-8 (black, cyan, magenta, yellow), power cord, print head, bundled media (MP-101 A4 - 4 sheets), sample media (PP-201 4x6 – 5 sheets), and a telephone line cable. There's also a cross sell sheet that attempts to sell you accessories related to the printer.
Setting up the printer was hardly a difficult task. Despite the protective wrapping, the printer came out fairly painlessly. Unpacking the printer shouldn't take any more than ten minutes, including the time it takes to plug it in and wire it up.
The two areas of setup involved in this printer are placing the ink cartridge and print head into place and alignment. Putting the ink cartridges into place can be an exciting task. With the print head in place, the cartridges are placed into their clearly marked designated spaces. When they're properly in place, a red light turns on. Alignment involves putting the included MP-101 paper into the printer and running the alignment sequence.
Whether choosing to setup using easy install or custom install for the MX850, setup is straightforward. With a few clicks, for both custom and easy install, the driver and software are downloaded and ready for use. This process takes about fifteen minutes.
Drivers and Administration (7.5)
Drivers and software are available for Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows 98 and Mac OS X. The Solution Menu is the one forthcoming portal into the MX850 printer controls and editing tools.
It is separated into six categories: scan/import photos or documents, print photos or albums, change settings or find solutions to problems, get help on your Canon product or software, register (the printer) online, and find information on Canon products.
The Solution Menu manages virtually any Canon printer you may have installed your computer. When using the get help option, the Solution Menu recognizes other Canon printers and gives you the option to choose which printer you want help for.
When choosing the MX850 under the get help option, the menu will redirect you to the Canon MX850 on-screen manual.
The change settings bar lets you choose which printer you want to edit settings for and/or need assistance with. This gives you four options to explore: printer settings, paper source settings, printer status and troubleshooting.
The printer settings option connects you to the MX840 printer properties where several editing and enhancing options are available. The Main and Page Setup tabs contain the usual standard editing tools, however, the following tabs, Effects and Maintenance add some new options.
With the Effects tab, the settings for vividness, noise and image optimization can be controlled, as well as a settings to simulate illustration and turning monochrome images into pseudo-color ones with the addition of a color cast. However useful, these options aren't anything extraordinary; they could be done with any other photo or document editing tool, and probably more effectively.
The Maintenance tab provides maintenance features such as power, cleaning and alignment; the printer status can be checked here, and by clicking on custom settings, you can chose the ink drying time by toggling between short and long dry time.
There's also a Profiles tab in between Effects and Maintenance. The list of profiles is laid out on the left side and the settings on the right. Preferred settings can be added to Printing Profiles for easier and faster access of those settings. New additions can be added as default settings as well.
An interesting feature through the My Printer portal is the Paper Source Settings option. This window lets you chose how you'd like to use your trays.
Paper Source Settings gives you three options on how to use the two main input trays. The first option refers to the most frequently used paper. With this option, you can choose the front tray for the most commonly used paper type and the rear tray for lesser used paper types. So, if you print a lot of draft documents on plain paper and use nicer paper for the final version, this option would be beneficial as you can allocate a paper type for each of the trays. This would also be useful if you commonly print documents and occasionally print photographs; you can set plain paper to feed from the main cassette and photo paper from the back tray.
The second option entails using the same type of paper in both trays: when one tray runs out of paper, the printer will automatically switch to the other. This is a good option for those who print a lot of long documents, as it increases the paper capacity to 300 sheets of plain paper.
The last option allows you to control the tray selection manually using the Feed Switch button on the printer itself. The user can decide at each print request to keep the selected tray or switch it. Using this option, the tray selection can only be changed from the printer control panel, requiring you to be within reach of the printer.
Printer Status is third on the list. Here is where you'll find the printer status, whether it's online or not and the ink levels. The driver already does a good job of letting you know where the ink levels are at each print request, but being able to look it up as well is a definite plus.
The final option is troubleshooting.
The troubleshooting window helps with simple problems you may have like how to cancel a print, what to do when having ink problems, cleaning, what to do when the printer lamp is flashing and when the printer won't start. It also has a link to view the on-screen user manual.
The Troubleshooting window won't help if you are having serious technical difficulties with the printer, but it's a good handy guide to basic operations and simple problems. However the link at the very bottom right corner is the Additional support information, which leads to the Canon website for additional support for troubleshooting printer issues.
The Solution Menu leads you to two of the four software programs included with the Canon MX850: MP Navigator EX, and Easy-PhotoPrint EX. The other two are Newsoft Presto PageManager and ScanSoft OmniPage SE. MP Navigator EX is software for scanning and/or importing documents or images. The three categories it provides are Scan/Import, View & Use and One-Click.
The Scan/Import section provides three additional choices of execution: Photos/Documents (Platen), Stack of documents (ADF) and Memory card. These are the three avenues given to the user to upload paper documents or images onto their computers. The first option is for a few documents that can be placed one by one on the scanner bed. The second option, Stack of Documents, is so users can import using the ADF (Automatic Document Feeder). And the third option is transferring files from a memory card. One issue here is the scan resolution; although Canon claims that the MX850 is capable of scanning at up to 4800 dots per inch (dpi), the software is limited to a maximum of 600 dpi, even when you ask to scan a photo on the plate.
Users can click on any one of the three options and be able to change their mind. The new window keeps all three options available.
Each task is worked out into three steps: placing documents into place, selecting the paper type and executing the command.
MP Navigator EX preferences can be changed by clicking the Preferences link on the top right hand corner. This leads to a window with a general tab and a scanner button settings tab, of which the later is most useful. The scanner button settings tab lets users select the document type, size, resolution, and whether users want their scans to automatically saved to their computer or not. If users choose to automatically save, there are options to name the files, select a type, and the placement of where the scans are stored.
The second category, View & Use, also has three options to work with: My Box, Specify Folder and Recently Saved Images.
My Box holds scanned and imported images. By default it's organized by date of scan; starting out with a year folder, then a month folder then a folder with the exact date of scanned items.
Like the Scan/Import window, it keeps the other options available in the window no matter which option the user chooses.
Specify Folder is an option where the user can chose the folder they want to view in the MP Navigator EX window. Users can view recently scanned images and search saved images through this navigation window as well,
The One-Click category makes it possible for users to scan and save documents with a single click. There are five options given: save to PC, save as PDF file, attach to e-mail, OCR and custom.
From the Solution Menu, Easy-PhotoPrint EX can be accessed by clicking on the print photos or albums bar. The Easy-PhotoPrint EX provides six options: PhotoPrint, Album, Calendar, Stickers, Layout Print and Library. Each option is self-explanatory. Users chose photos, create the layout they want and print it.
Scansoft OmniPage SE 4.0 is software for manipulating and converting scanned documents from images to text. When installed and connected to the scanner through Scanner Setup Wizard. OmniPage operates using three key working areas: Document Manager, Text Editor and Image Panel.
Warm-up Time (7.10)
The MX850 had a fairly fast warm-up time at seven-and-a-half seconds. It beat out Canon's previous model MP600, which took 25 seconds and the extremely slow HP Photosmart C5180 which took a yawn-inducing 43 seconds to warm up.
Power Usage (6.22)
The MX850 did a lot better than the Kodak EasyShare 5300 in regards to power usage. While printing, we measured the maximum power usage at a energy-bills aving 18 Watts, which is significantly less than the Kodak's printing score of 24 watts. However it couldn't quite beat Canon MP600's score in some categories. While the MP600's idle value was one, Canon's MX850 burned through 6 Watts.
Speed/Timing (ppm) (6.18)
The MX850 proved to be a speedy printer in our tests with a black text only document and a newsletter with graphics document. The text document took around 5.64 seconds per page, while graphic pages printed at approximately 18 seconds a page. Both of these are good scores for an inkjet. Although you should look at a laser printer if you're looking for really quick printing, the MX850 did a very dence tjob of cranking out the pages at a good rate.
We also noticed that many of our test prints had distinct banding, and this did not go away after extensive cleaning and realignment.
Speed Timing (7.38)
The Canon MX850 proved to be fast at printing photos. At its fastest, it was able to print our 4x6 test image in a speedy 12.25 seconds from the computer. Larger images were also quick to print the MX850 printed our large test image from a CompactFlash card in approximately 92.4 seconds. That's a good speed for an all-in-one device, and is significantly faster than both the MP600 and the Kodak EasyShare 5300.
Color Accuracy (4.36)
Color accuracy is a vital part of the performance of a printer, which is why we do extensive testing of how close the colors the printer produces come to the real thing. To test the accuracy of a printer, we print out a representation of a standard color chart, and measure how close this is to the correct colors using an Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer. A sample version of the chart we use is shown below.
We test printouts on both the manufacturer's own glossy photo paper and Ilford Galerie glossy paper. After this, we also create a custom printer profile using the Eye-One Pro Match 3 analysis system, where the system produces a customized color profile from a series of color printouts.
We found that the smallest color error came from using this custom profile using the Canon Photo Paper; this produced a relatively small mean color error of 4.93. In contrast, the default profile from Canon had a significantly higher color error of 8.78, which underlines how creating a custom color profile can help get better results out of a printer.
The particualr colors that the MX850 seemed to struggle with were the blues: the cyan, blue sky and purple patches all had significant errors in all of out test prints. The blue sky patch in particular was off, which could be a problem if you're a fan of landscapes. But the color accuracy was generally good, and most images should come out of the MX850 looking fine.
Color Gamut (3.5)
The gamut test is a measure of how much of the standard Adobe RGB color space the printer can reproduce accurately. Printers that can reproduce more of this color space produce a richer color range in images. The manufacturer’s color profiles are used and compared to the Adobe RGB color space. In the graph below, the grid represents the full Adobe RGB color space, while the solid color represents the color space that the printer can produce. The closer the two shapes, the higher the score.
The Canon MX850 performed fairly low on this test, reproducing 43.98% of the color space. Although no printer will be able to cover the entire space perfectly, we've tested many printers that could manage more than 50%, but the Canon MX850 managed somewhat less than this.
DMax, or maximum density, is a measure of the density of the blackest black a printer can produce. The whitest white is set by the paper tone, but the depth of the black is determined by qualities of the paper and the black ink. Being able to show the darkest blacks and whitest white is important because it increases the range of shades you can have in between. DMax value is measured by the ratio of light reflected off the black tone of a print; the higher this ratio, the deeper the black.
We measured the Dmax of the prints from the MX850 on Canon' own Photo Glossy Pro paper at 2.35, a very decent value that indicated strong, deep blacks.
Black and White (5.0)
The Canon MX850 produced mediocre black and white prints from our test images. At default settings, it did not create a true black and white photo; in fact, the prints carried more of a sepia tone with brown tints. When the settings were changed to print in grayscale mode, the print came closer to producing a black and white photo, but still carried somewhat of a sepia tone in the mid range tones. However, that said, the detail of the black and white was more than adequate.
The Canon MX850 is, in short, a space taker. It's large, bulky size easily overpowers any standard size desk and shames the thought of being propped up on a hutch or shelf. However, the printer does embody a unique shape as an all-in-one printer. Where many other multifunction printers come in the shape of monotone boxes, the MX850 manages to put an interesting twist on its over-sized shape with its sleek design and color combination.
At first sight, the printer looks like a silver and black, downward sloping hill. The left side of the printer is curvedly taller than the right side. It slips into a clean slope at just about the middle of the printer. The printer is all black with white accents and bordering in a shade of dark silver. The control panel extends out of the printer, almost as if it were able to, it could slide back in.
Most predominantly on the control panel is the adjustable TFT LCD screen. It sits directly in the middle and comes out as far as 45 degrees. But because there’s a downward-sloping slant to the control panel, the LCD screen tilts slightly towards the floor, appearing to be at more of a 60 degree angle.
The control panel consists of black buttons and white writing and/or pictographs, except for two buttons that have red and green illustrations.
The first button on the far left is the "On/Off" power button written in white. To the right of the power button are four larger buttons: "Copy", "Fax", "Scan" and "Memory Card". Each button has an associating illustrated pictograph on it relating to the button-function.
Below these buttons are eight tiny buttons that are numbered from "01" to "08" that are speed dial storage buttons. These are associated with the faxing task and can't be programmed to contain the numbers you'd like you keep most handy.
The 2.5 inch LCD screen has a wide gap above it, allowing fingers to slip in and pull up the screen. However this gap isn't very well designed, as you really can't get a snug fit and your fingers tend to hit the wall of the printer.
To the right of the LCD screen is a raised circle of arrow buttons, four total, pointing up, down, right and left. The middle is an "OK" button. This circle of buttons is cornered with four buttons. At the top left corner is the "Menu" button, at the top right is the "Settings" button, at the bottom left is "Back" and the bottom right is "Trimming".
One of the two main paper trays sits underneath the control panel and can be opened manually by pressing the wide, oval button to the left of it. The convenient thing about this tray is that it can be kept closed; it will open automatically on its own when a print is requested.
Underneath this tray is a slim slide-out cassette tray that goes reasonably unnoticed. It's a convenient tray but takes a bit of a jerk to get it open and, if given too much of a tug, may fall out completely.
To the right of the tray is a door where the handle is a tiny half circle, just big enough to squeeze half of a finger or nail in to unlatch the door. Inside holds two slots: the bigger left slot is designated for the Compact Flash, and the smaller right slot is for SD, MMC and MS cards.
The right wall of the MX850 has a 2"x 2" square of air holes. Besides that, the side panel is clear of ports, plugs and buttons, but the separation of the cover is more prominent from the side view than the frontal view.
The left wall of the printer is clear of everything as well and does not have the air holes.
The top lid opens up to reveal the scanner. The cover is slighty heavy and a more forceful push is required after about an inch-and-half to snap it open. After that it stays firmly open on its own. The top closes easier than it opens but be aware because if pushed down more firmly than needed, it will slam against the printer.
The top also has the document tray where you can feed in your documents facing up for scanning. You'll have to lift the cover and feed the documents one sheet at a time. Beneath it is the document output slot. Documents that are placed in the document tray and scanned are returned in the document output slot.
The back end of the printer holds the rear tray and a few ports. The tray has an extra slide-out tray that can be extended by tugging at the indent to further help support paper placed in the rear document tray. The extension is slightly rigid when pulling it out and even more so when pushing it back in. You really have to make sure it’s aligned properly with the document try itself to have it roll back into place easily. It’s definitely not easily placed back in using one hand – if you do, you run the risk of getting a finger snapped in.
Behind the rear document tray, on the back wall of the printer, is the rear cover which can be opened to deal with paper jams. Upon opening the rear cover, you’ll find the ink tank lamp and the print head holder. The rear cover is lightweight and opens and closes with ease; however it’s so lightweight that it feels like it can easily be broken off.
Directly to the left of the rear door are two phone jack and an external devise jack. At the far left, there are two more slots, the top for an internet cable cord and the bottom for a USB cable. The printer cable power slot is the only slot on the right of the rear door.
The bottom of the printer has a door that can be opened to deal with scanning jams.
Being that the printer exterior is mainly black, the interior follows the same color scheme by also being mostly black.
The control panel serves a second purpose: to use as leverage to lift the top half of the printer and reveal the ink cartridges. The lid is opened and closed with air cushions, so for the most part lifting and closing is smooth.
With this lid open, it provides a full clear view of the ink cartridges. If placed properly, all cartridges will be lit with a bright red light.
If the cartridges are not properly installed, the lights will not turn on.
The 2.5-inch LCD is a decent size, and the colors are resonable accurate. However, the background isn’t a bright white but a dull white. It's slightly grayed almost as if to overcorrect for an overly bright screen. The dullness does translate into the photograph displays, as it doesn't relay the photographs very sharply.
Paper Trays (8)
There are five paper trays in the Canon MX850: two are output trays and three are input trays. The three input trays are on the front-bottom, top and rear These are adjustable to hold anywhere between 4x6 photo paper to letter size and A4 sized paper. The two output trays on the front and top. The front paper tray opens with the push of a button, located to its left, while the tray beneath, the top tray and the back tray open manually.
The front tray does a good job of opening on its own, as it doesn’t suddenly fly open and slam, but simply unlocks itself and slowly folds out from the printer. This front tray also has a mini fold-out tray right in the center that can be pulled out to tilt the ejected pages upwards – so as to prevent them from falling to the surface beneath. According to Canon, this tray holds approximately 150 sheets.
The slide out cassette beneath it isn't as graceful as the tray above it. In fact, compared to the top tray, the bottom slide-out tray needs a pressured push to get it open. It slides out well but there’s excess space for wobbling.
This tray, perhaps to alarm of the user, slides out and removes itself from the printer completely. The ability to take out the tray entirely does make it easy to insert the longer 8.5 by 14 inch papers, but if the user’s tries to pull it out too quickly or forcefully, without the intention of pulling it out completely, it may be irritating when it does fall out. According to Canon, this cassette tray also holds 150 pages.
The top tray is an ADF, or Automatic Document Feeder, and sits behind a grayed, plastic see-through lid. According to Canon, it holds up to 35 pages and transforms into two positions. With the first, the lid can be unfolded, allowing the user to insert paper for scanning and copying.
For the second, the tray can be pushed up in a vertical position. Although the lid does not stand upright with the tray, it rests lightly on the printer-top. If the user attempts to keep it upright, it will fall over and slam. With the tray lifted this way, it provides more viewing room for the delivery tray right below.
Canon provides a cord as the power supply for this printer, no external AC adapter is required.
Internal Memory (7)
As far as internal memory goes, it’s all dedicated to the fax function. According to Canon, the MX850’s memory capacity is approximately 250 pages.
Print jobs can be queued and other requests like coping and scanning can be made, but each will perform separately in order of request.
Hard Drive (0)
There is no hard drive on the MX850, and you can't add one as an option.
CD Burner (0)
There is no CD burner on the MX 850, , and you can't add one as an option.
Canon doesn't provide any exorbitant amount accessories for this printer, in fact, it doesn't offer anything outside of ink and paper. The MX850 isn't even offered a option to purchase a multipack of ink, as the Canon MP600 is.
As for ink, the MX850 options are PGI-5 (black) and CLI-8 (black, cyan, magenta and yellow).
The Canon Pixma MX850 has what looks like a pulled out control panel bar. This panel stretches out and sits towards the top front end of the printer.
The panel is black with black buttons and white letterings and pictographs. The buttons are evenly spaced. With the TFT screen resting in the middle of the control panel, half of the buttons sit on one side while the other half on the other side. The function buttons are on the left: On/Off, Copy, Fax, Scan and Memory Card, Feed Switch, Fax Quality, Two-Sided and Search. Also on the left are eight the one-touch speed dial buttons along with the two alert lights: In Use/Memory and the Alarm light.
The dial-pad, Start buttons and Menu buttons along with associating arrow, settings and editing buttons are on the right.
Size / Portability (3.08)
The Canon MX850 isnot meant to be a portable printer. At 30.7 lbs, the printer is not easily lifted. It's also a fairly bulky printer with dimensions of: 19W x 20D x 10.2H. Using the back tray isn't all that convenient, especially if seated high, like on a desk hutch.
The Canon MX850 comes with five ink cartridges: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and a PGBK Black ink tank. According to Canon the printer can eject ink drops as small as less than one picoliter. The printer has 4,608 total nozzles, of which 512 are black and 4,096 are dedicated to color.
The Canon MX850 is more expensive than other printers like it on the market. It's significantly overweight and somewhat bulky. Although its ink prices are on par with other printers, it doesn't offer the mulitipack option like other multifunction Canon printers have.
Ink Management (6)
Ink management is taken care of through the printer driver. Starting from the MX850 properties and viewing the Maintenance tab, click on View Printer Status; this will lead you to a small window that will display the ink levels, printer connection status and any jobs in the print queue.
The Canon MX850 is compatible with USB devices and has one exposed port on the front wall of the printer. It is also compatible with Pictbridge and DPOF (Direct Point Order Format).
Media Slots (8)
The MX850 supports an collection of media: SD, SDHC, miniSD, RS-MMC, MicroSD, CompactFlash, MicroDrive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Duo and PRO Duo and xD Picture card. The slots for these are all on the front wall of the printer behind a small door underneath the control panel. The door's design makes the printer look clean and also keeps the slots clean by not allowing them to be exposed to dust and other potentially harmful matter.
Wireless Interface (0)
Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR is an optional feature; the BU-30 Blueooth adapter costs $49.99. However, we don't award points for this as it is not included with the printer by default.
The MX850 comes as standard with a gigabit ethernet connection that allows the printer to be shared across a home or small office network.
Print Quality (3.5)
The amount of control the MX850 gives you over print quality settings was pretty standard. There aren't any detailed options that come with this printer. By default, documents are printed in reverse order but this can be reversed with the print from last page option in the print setup screen. However, overriding paper type is allowed, unlike some printers that won't print unless the paper type selected matches the paper type sensed in the printer.
Image Editing (5)
Image editing can be accessed through Canon's My Printer. By clicking on Printer Settings, it will lead users to Canon MX850 series Printer Properties. On the Main tab of the properties window, users can click on the Manual option under Color/Intensity. The Set button will turn active and clicking on it this will open a new window labeled Manual Color Adjustment. A slider scale is given to the colors Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Drop down options for Brightness are: light, normal and dark. And followed below are two slider scales for Intensity and Contrast, going from light to dark and low to high, respectively.
The Effects tab also several image editing options. Users can choose the Simulate Illustration to give the effect of a painting. A slider scale is available to adjust the contrast. Photo image optimizers to improve resolution are also available, as well as photo noise reduction.
Black and White Effects (4)
Black and white images or illustrations can also be colorized using the monochrome effects option in the Effects screen. This gives options for sepia, pink and blue/green, or the user can select the color to be used from a slider.
Media Types (3)
The Canon MX850 supports plain paper, photo paper, letter and A3 paper. Larger paper types and banner/roll paper are not supported, and it cannot print to paper thicker than
Scan Features (6.5)
Scanning on the MX850 offers a few options. You can select the document type in which there are four options: document (platen), photo (platen), document (ADF simplex) and document (ADF duplex) The printer also offers four methods of saving the scanned item; you can save to a PC, as a PDF file, attach it to an email or open it using a preferred application.
The scanner itself is capable of a maximum optical resolution of 4800 by 9600 pixels [software?]. This can be interpolated up to 19,200 by 19,200, but at the cost of reduced quality.
Scan Speed (9.81)
The MX850 was speedy at scanning; it managed to scan a 4 by 6 photo at the lowest resolution in just over 8 seconds, and a 8.5 by 11 photo in 31 seconds at the maximum resolution. That's significantly faster than many of the all-in-one devices we've looked at; the Kodak Easy Share 5300 took 12 seconds to do the 4 by 6 and 51 seconds to do the 8.5 by 11 photo. However, we did find one major problem with the MX850: although Canon claims it is capable of scanning at up to 4800 by 9600 dpi, the software was not capable of scanning beyond 600 dpi. This is a serious problem if you are scanning photos or want to enlarge a portion of an image for printing.
Scan Color Quality (5.24)
To assess the color accuracy of the scanning function, Gretag Macbeth Colorchecker chart ran through Imatest to determine how far apart the scanner's color values are from the ideal Colorchecker Lab values.
The Canon MX850 scanner has a color error value of 9.55. It performed better than the Kodak EasyShare 5300, which scored 10.6 but not better than the HP C5180, which yielded a score of 8.36.
The MX850 did a good job of producing greens and foliage colors but did a poor job of making reds and yellows and that's where most of its color error comes from.
Copy Speed (4.62)
The MX850 performed well on the copy speed test. It was able to make text copies at a rate of .4 pages per minute and graphic pages at a rate of .8 pages per minute. Although not a great score, the Canon MX850 is able to stay competitive with other printers in its class. The printer had a tendency to stop in the middle of printing the copy and stall, but when it started back up again, it boosted out the pages.
Copy Color Quality (8.85)
We test the quality of the copies that printers like the MX850 make by copying a Gretag Macbeth color chart and then testing the accuracy of the scan. The Canon MX850's color error for our Colorcheck copy quality test was very good, achieving a mean color error of 5.65. Using Gretag Macbeth's 24-square Colorchecker chart, which contains commonly photographed colors, skin tones, and gray tones, the chart is scanned into using the Epson Perfection V700 scanner, a calibrated lab scanner. Running this image through Imatest's Colorcheck program yields output that shows the average difference between the printer's interpreted color values and the Colorchecker chart's ideal color values. The MX850 matched foliage and greens very well but didn't do a very good job at matching shades of red, magenta and yellows.
Fax Features (6)
The MX850 has a decent set of fax features: color faxes are supported, and it can hold up to 250 pages in memory. The 8 speed dial buttons on the front of the printer allow for quick sending to frequency used numbers, and you can set which paper source the printer pulls the paper from when printing. The paper size can also be configured to A4, 8.5 by 11, or 8.5 by 14 inch paper. Three quality settings are available; standard, fine and photo.
Group dialling (where pressing one of the speed dial buttons sends the fax to several different fax numbers) is also possible, but there is no way to send a delayed fax. So, this isn't a fax machine that gives you the opportunity to delay sending the bad news until you're out of the office.
Ease of Use (8)
The printer was fairly easy to learn. Although the number of options and features on offer can be somewhat bewildering, the software and setup guides do a good job of guiding you through the process. The menu can become a bit confusing at times, though, especially when attempting to learn how to change the settings or things like storing numbers in the fax telephone number registration. Keeping the manual close by is a good idea.
Since there are currently many other printers on the market that perform the same or very similar tasks as the Canon MX850 for a lower price, it will take some second thought before purchasing this printer. The ink price is on par with other printers, ranging from $14.25 for the regular black and color ink cartridges to $16.25 for the PGBK Black in tank. However where other printers like the Canon MP600 offer a multipack option for inks, the MX850 does not.
The Canon MX850 is more expensive than other printers in its category. Retailing for $279.99, the Kodak EasyShare 5300 and the HP Photosmart C5180 both beat it by $80. The previous Canon MP600 is also $100 cheaper. Many new printers on the market are also selling for less than the MX850 and offer features like WiFi. However, the MX850 was faster than many of these, so if the pritner will be in heavy use, it might be worth the extra. The MX850's ink cost is on par with most other printers in its class, running at $14.25 per cartridge and $16.25 for the PGBK ink tank. However, there is no multipack option for the MX850; you have to buy the ink cartridges individually.
For the hefty price mark and size of the Canon MX850, we had hoped it would live up to a higher standard, or at least to its price point. However, it didn't quite justify its cost.
Firstly, the downsides; the MX850 produced rather weak black and white prints, and we noticed some banding on many prints, which did not go away after extensive cleaning and realignment. The MX850 did do a great job of accurately reproducing greens and foliage colors, but sheered off when attempting to do the same with blue tones.
But on the upside, the Canon MX850 was responsive, and mostly easy to use. The dual input trays and the choices the printer offers on how to use them is a plus, and the ADF is quick and responsive as well. The smart ink management tools and lights on the cartridges are a definite bonus , as they make monitoring the ink levels and working out which cartridge to swap easy. The menus are also a bit confusing in some places (such as configuring the fax speed dial buttons), but that's a small obstacle in its overall user friendly menu.
We also found the MX850 to be a generally fast printer, both in printing and scanning, which would be definite plus in a busy small office. But the bottom line is that it isn't cheap; for $279.99, the Canon MX850 is no steal.
Meet the tester
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