Canon's new Pixma MP510 all-in-one is the 2006 refresh of the Pixma MP500, which performed quite well in CNET Labs. Generally, we see quality and technology improvements with each iteration of a product, but that's not exactly what happened with the MP510. For one thing, at AU$249 the Pixma MP510 is AU$50 cheaper than the Pixma MP500. Good, right? Well, that depends. Canon pulled back on some elements of the MP500. For one, it reduced the LCD from 2.5 inches to 1.9 inches. It also left out the MP500's built-in duplexer, and the ink system shrunk from five tanks to four (the dye-based black ink was left out on this round). Comparisons to the MP500 aside, the MP510 lacks some elements that are quite common on photo printers, such as the ability to use the PictBridge port as a USB port for external storage devices and the ability to push photo content back and forth between the printer's memory card slots and the attached PC with a touch of a button.
On the upside, the MP510 offers many features that amateur photo hobbyists will find useful, shows decent print quality, and does a fast job with prints. And best of all, it's inexpensive. But the Pixma MP500 is still available in retail channels, so we recommend that you spend the extra $30 and go for that model.
The Canon Pixma MP510 is a photo-centric all-in-one printer that combines print, scan, and copy functionality. It lacks fax capability, a feature that's more commonly found on office-oriented all-in-ones. It's slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, the MP500. It sits 17.6 inches wide, 14.5 inches deep, and 6.8 inches tall and weighs slightly less than 16 pounds. Its boxy body is swathed in white and light silver plastic. The most notable design change is the location of the control panel. On the Pixma MP500, the control panel sat front and center on a shelf. The control panel on the Pixma MP510 is more discreet: it sits to the side of the scanner under a flip-up lid that measures about 3.25 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep. The small 1.9-inch LCD is embedded in the underside of the lid, and you can pivot the lid forward and back to optimise the viewing angle (the MP500's LCD measured a much more generous 2.5 inches). Despite the smaller real estate, the MP510's control panel offers the same array of buttons as the MP500: three buttons to toggle between Copy, Scan, and Memory Card tasks; a four-way rocker switch and Menu, Back, and OK buttons to navigate the various menus; a Settings button; a Photo Index Sheet button; a Feed Switch button to toggle between the input sources; and, of course, start buttons (one each for colour and black) and a cancel button.
The scanner lid conceals a flatbed scanner that can hold up to 8.5x11.7-inch originals (approximately A4 size). The lid hinges back slightly to accommodate thick originals but doesn't detach entirely. Two memory card slots are concealed behind a door and can read most major types of memory cards, though you'll need adapters for a few types. Recessed under the memory card slots is a PictBridge port for printing from PictBridge cameras or connecting an optional Bluetooth adapter.
The Canon Pixma MP510 offers two sources of paper input: a front feeder and an auto sheet feeder in the rear. The front feeder resides under the output tray, and Canon recommends that this tray be used only to feed plain paper in A4, letter, or B5 size. All other sizes and types of paper, including photo paper, should be fed from the auto sheet feeder, which folds out from the back of the printer. A small lever hidden under the left edge of the printer adjusts the distance between the paper and the printhead. According to the user guide, switch the lever to the right only for envelopes and T-shirt transfers; all other types of paper should be used with the lever to the left. The output tray sits above the front feeder, and a plastic arm swivels out to corral long sheets of paper.
The Pixma MP510 employs a four-ink system, with separate ink cartridges. The three colour inks are dye based, while the black is pigment based for better text prints. The MP500 uses a better five-ink system that includes both pigment- and dye-based black inks.
The Pixma MP510 is a breeze to set up thanks to the included CD and a quick-start guide. The CD contains all the necessary drivers and software, including ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5.5 for editing photos, OmniPage SE 4 for scanning, and Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint and MP Navigator utilities. You'll have to provide the USB cable yourself. The MP510 doesn't have wireless capability, but you can purchase an optional Bluetooth adapter for printing wirelessly from Bluetooth-enabled phones and PDAs. The MP510 does come with IrDA standard, though, which lets you print wirelessly from certain mobile phones.
The MP510's features are much the same as those on the MP500. When copying, you can scale from 25 to 400 percent, make up to 99 copies at once, make borderless copies, make fit-to-page copies (the original is reduced or enlarged to fit the output page), repeat images, make sticker prints, and restore faded originals. The nice thing about the MP510's image repeat feature is that you can manually determine the layout, that is, how many times you want your image repeated. Keep in mind, though, that the printer won't shrink the image if it's too large to be repeated as many times as you like; instead, the image will be cut off.
When scanning, you have the option to initiate the scan from the printer itself or from your PC, using the included ScanSoft software or any TWAIN-compliant software, such as Photoshop. If you initiate from the printer, you have several options: scan to PDF; attach the scan to an e-mail; save the scan to your PC; or open the scanned document in an application. If you use the ScanSoft program, you can take advantage of the optical character recognition feature, which allows you to edit scanned text documents.
You get a lot of useful options when printing photos from a memory card. You can print all the pictures in one fell swoop, pick individual photos to be printed in one batch, or step through the contents of your card to print photos individually. You can also print one of three types of photo indexes: all the photos on a card, all the photos taken in a date range, or just the last 36, 72, 108, or 144 photos. The last option is convenient if you tend to just add to your memory cards without deleting. Once you've printed the index, you can bubble in the images you want to print; indicate how many copies of each image; make a few minor tweaks, such as turning on the photo optimiser or face brightener; and select the size and type of paper to print on. Then just scan the sheet on the flatbed scanner and, voila, pictures printed. The MP510 also offers some special photo layout options, including a 2X, 4X, half borderless with lines for a memo, and so on.
As you're selecting photos, you can make adjustments to the image quality by either selecting general tweaks or making changes manually. For example, you can select Vivid Photos to boost greens and blues; Photo Optimizer Pro, which optimises brightness and tone; Noise Reduction, Face Brightener; or Image Optimizer. If you prefer more control, you can manually adjust brightness, contrast, and colour hue. If you want an even greater range of image editing control or effects, the ArcSoft PhotoStudio program is a very useful tool.
There are a couple of major omissions on this printer that we'd like to see in future versions. First is the ability to use the PictBridge port to connect USB storage devices, such as external hard drives or flash thumbdrives, and to print pictures directly from them as you would from a memory card (the MP500 doesn't offer this feature, either). The second missing feature is a menu option to save photos from a memory card to the connected PC. With the Pixma MP510, you can navigate to My Computer where you should find the memory card listed as a drive. Saving the photos is a simple matter of dragging and dropping the files onto your PC. However, we've seen many printers, such as the HP Photosmart C5180 and the Epson PictureMate Snap, that offer a Save to PC option, which is a simpler and more elegant solution. Some of them even let you save photos both ways between a PC and a memory card, a PC and a USB storage device, and a memory card and a USB storage device.
With each new version of a printer, we expect to see improved scores and performance. Unfortunately for the Pixma MP510, we did not see faster print scores. The MP510 printed text at a rate of 6.37 pages per minute, slightly behind the Pixma MP500's 7.08ppm but ahead of both the Epson Stylus CX7800 and the HP Photosmart C5180. It was a pretty fast photo printer, though, producing 4x6 prints at a rate of 1.26ppm. This score is roughly on a par with the MP500's 0.56ppm for an 8x10 print. The MP510 lagged behind both the Epson and HP printers when creating grayscale scans, with a score of 5.28ppm, but it turned around and beat both at colour scans, with 5.20ppm.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The text quality was decent, though a bit odd. The text was nicely dark, and while the edges weren't perfectly sharp, they were decent for an inkjet. But overall, it had a sort of "swollen" quality to it, as the letters looked thicker than normal. Still, the text was legible down to very small point sizes. The colour graphics were great, with smooth gradients, nice colour reproduction, and a very smooth colour saturation we found pleasing. The photo elements showed good detail, too. The text on this graphics page suffered from the same problem as text on the text-only print, though, and we noticed some jaggedness in curves. The 4x6 photo prints showed good detail and sharpness, but we would've liked for the colours to be just a bit richer and more vibrant.
The colour scan exhibited excellent colour reproduction, but had a slightly hazy look to it, as if it had been scanned through some type of filter. The grayscale scans fared a bit worse. Although the scan was sharp and showed good detail, the blacks weren't truly black, more of a very dark gray.
Overall, between the MP500 and the MP510, we found print quality to be a draw, with perhaps a slight edge to the MP500. The MP500 had much nicer text prints but exhibited too much red and blue in the photo elements on the colour graphics page. We like the skin tones on the MP500's photo better, but we thought the photo had a cast that was too somber. Overall, we preferred the print quality of the Canon Pixma MP510 to either the Epson Stylus CX7800 or the HP Photosmart C5180.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Canon provides a one-year limited warranty for its consumer printers. You can extend the warranty to three years for AU$99. You can also get tech support via e-mail, and Canon says it will respond within 24 hours. Canon's site has FAQs, a troubleshooting tool, downloadable drivers and software, and PDFs of product and software manuals.