The Canon Pixma MP470 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 similarly-priced 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.
The Canon Pixma MP470 uses the same basic design as the Pixma MP510. The black-and-silver body measures 45.1cm wide, 35.3cm deep, and 16.9cm tall. The silver scanner lid conceals an A4-size flatbed scanner. Because the MP470 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-organised. 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 colour.
The Pixma MP470 uses a two-tank ink system: one black and one tricolour. It ships with regular capacity cartridges, but you can replace both with high-capacity versions.
The Canon Pixma MP470 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 MP470, 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.
Among its comparably priced competition, the Canon Pixma MP470 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 MP470 produced colour graphics prints at a rate of 2.10ppm, however, while none of the other three 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 colour scans at a rate of 4.49ppm; both scores were in the middle of a tight pack.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Print quality is where the Pixma MP470 (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. Colours were true and gradients were smooth. We were also pleased by the colour saturation. The 4x6 colour 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 greyscale looked overblown, resulting in lost details in highlighted areas. The colours could stand to be a bit warmer, as well.
Both the colour and greyscale scans were good. The greyscale scan showed sharp details, but again, the highlight areas were overblown a bit. The colour scan was the better of the two: sharp details and great colour reproduction. Overall, we were really impressed by the quality of this printer. None of the competition produced results as consistently good as the Pixma MP470. Home users will be very pleased with this machine.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Canon backs the Pixma MP470 with a one-year warranty, standard for consumer-level printers. This model has the same online support options as Canon's other printers which include downloadable drivers and software, manuals, and FAQs. Also, e-mail support is available via a Web-based form.