Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer - Review

Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer - Review

Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer - ReviewThe S$229 Canon PIXMA MP476 is an entry-level inkjet all-in-one that produces high-quality prints at decent print speeds (though text prints are slow). Of all the S$200 multifunctions we've tested, this one produced the best text and graphics prints. It does have some limitations, such as the inability to use a flash drive with the front-mounted USB port, but overall, we really like this inkjet multifunction. Casual home users who need high-quality prints will find their money well spent.

Design of the Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer

The Canon PIXMA MP476 uses the same basic design as the PIXMA MP510. The black-and-silver body measures 451 x 353 x 169mm. The silver scanner lid conceals an A4-size flatbed scanner. Because the MP476 lacks an automatic document feeder, you can't scan legal-size documents.

The paper handling system is simple. A paper input support flips open in the rear and the front panel of the printer folds open to serve as the output tray. Next to the output tray is a small door that conceals two memory card slots. The slots accept most common types of memory cards, though some require an adapter (which is not included).

Hidden away under the memory cards is a PictBridge-enabled USB port (it's so hidden that we missed it on first inspection). You can use it to connect PictBridge cameras for direct printing, or to attach an optional Bluetooth adapter (sold separately) for wireless printing. The one thing you can't attach to the USB port is a flash thumbdrive; the Dell Photo 926 lets you print files from an attached flash drive.

The control panel is hidden underneath a flip-up panel on the top side of the printer. Embedded on the underside of the panel is a 1.8-inch graphical LCD. The control panel is basic, though well-organized. Buttons include task buttons for copy, scan, and memory card modes, menu navigation buttons, and two start buttons--one for black-only and one for color.

The PIXMA MP476 uses a two-tank ink system: One black and one tri-color. It ships with regular capacity cartridges, but you can replace both with high-capacity versions.

Features of the Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer

The Canon PIXMA MP476 offers copy, scan, and photo print features. As it's a photo-oriented, home all-in-one printer, it lacks fax and network connectivity. The feature set is standard for an all-in-one in this price range. Standard copy lets you make up to 99 copies and reduce or enlarge from 25 to 400 percent. Special copy features include borderless copy, sticker copy, frame-erase copy (for photocopying books), and image repeat.

The main scan menu lets you choose between scanning the file to your PC (you can specify where you want it saved via a file tree), attaching the scan to an e-mail, scanning to PDF, or scanning into a program. The last option proved baffling. We're accustomed to selecting a program from a list of options on the printer's menu and having the resulting scan pop open in that program. With the PIXMA MP476, the scan pops up in Canon's MP Navigator EX utility; you can't instruct the scanner to scan to a program such as Word or Photoshop.

The MP Navigator EX utility allows you to edit the photo (in the case of photo scans), turn scans into PDFs, attach them to e-mails, or convert scans to editable text using optical character recognition software.

Printing from a memory card offers a lot of options. You can step through the files on a card and manually initiate prints individually, or you can go through the entire card, mark all the ones you want printed, and make a batch print. Special photo print options include print all, sticker prints, special layouts, and index prints. We don't like how the Print All option is buried in a third-level menu; we prefer it to be a top-level menu option.

You can print the index sheet in the standard layout with small thumbnails and images labeled by number, or you can print larger thumbnails in a layout that makes them look like negatives. Neither provides file names. Alternatively, you can print a scannable proof sheet that allows you to select photos on the proof sheet, and then scan the proof sheet to print just those photos. When printing the proof sheet, you can include only photos within a particular date range.

One final note: We couldn't initiate a transfer of photos from memory card to the attached PC using the printer's control panel. If you browse to My Computer on your PC, however, you'll find the memory card reader listed as a drive, and from there, you can drag and drop the photo files to your PC.

Performance of the Canon PIXMA MP476 All-in-one Inkjet Printer

Among its comparably priced competition, the Canon PIXMA MP476 was slow with text prints, but quick with graphics and 4x6 photos. Its scans were right in line with everyone else's. It printed text at a pokey 5.45pages per minute. The Lexmark x5470 was faster with a score of 6.90ppm, and the Dell Photo 926 was even faster than the Lexmark at 7.60ppm.

The PIXMA MP476 produced color graphics prints at a rate of 2.10ppm, however, while none of the other three $100 printers we looked at broke the 2.0ppm mark. It scored 0.81ppm for 4x6 photo prints; the Dell was the next fastest, with a score of 0.74ppm. The Canon produced grayscale scans at a rate of 4.60ppm and color scans at a rate of 4.49ppm; both scores were in the middle of a tight pack.

Print quality is where the PIXMA MP476 (and Canons in general) really stood out. The text print was dark, sharp, clean, and legible down to very small point sizes. Very close inspection revealed some minor jagged edges, but you really have to be looking for the errors to find them. The graphics print was likewise sharp and detailed.

Colors were true and gradients were smooth. We were also pleased by the color saturation. The 4x6 color photos fared the worst of all the quality tests, and yet, they still weren't too bad. The details were sharp, but the light end of the grayscale looked overblown, resulting in lost details in highlighted areas. The colors could stand to be a bit warmer, as well.

Both the color and grayscale scans were good. The grayscale scan showed sharp details, but again, the highlight areas were overblown a bit. The color scan was the better of the two: Sharp details and great color reproduction. Overall, we were really impressed by the quality of this $100 printer. None of the competition produced results as consistently good as the PIXMA MP476. Home users will be very pleased with this machine.