The Canon Pixma MP530 is one of two office-oriented inkjet all-in-one printers in Canon's offering. For a mere AU$399, you get a machine that prints, scans, copies, and faxes and does everything quite well. Photo enthusiasts will be disappointed by the lack of media card slots and a preview LCD, but the printer does feature a PictBridge port for direct printing from a camera. The included automatic document feeder and built-in duplexer are much appreciated; in fact, the only office feature this all-in-one lacks is built-in networking capability. If you don't mind working around that, this is a nearly perfect workhorse for a home-office environment; we haven't seen a better office-oriented all-in-one in this price range. If networking is your highest priority, try the Brother MFC-5840cn, but you'll be happier with the quality of the MP530's prints and scans. Canon's other office all-in-one is the Pixma MP830, which provides faster speeds, media card slots, and a preview LCD, but no networking capability, for an additional AU$150.
The Canon Pixma MP530 is fairly compact, though boxy, for an office-oriented all in one that prints, scans, copies, and faxes. It sits 18.5 inches wide, 18.4 inches deep, and 10.4 inches tall and weighs a manageable 28 pounds. The automatic document feeder mounted on top of the scanner lid handles up to 30 pages of originals for copying or scanning. The scanner platen can manage up to A4-size originals, but using the ADF, you can scan up to legal-size originals. The scanner lid's hinges lift to accommodate thicker originals, too.
Not surprisingly, the office-oriented Pixma MP530 has limited photo printing options. While it does have a PictBridge port for printing directly from PictBridge-enabled still and video cameras, it lacks media card slots. The Brother MFC-5840cn offers media card slots.
The MP530 has two options for paper input: a cassette and an auto sheet feeder. This arrangement is convenient if you often switch back and forth between plain paper and specialty papers. Each can hold up to 150 sheets of plain paper. The auto sheet feeder folds out from the rear of the printer while the cassette slides out from the bottom front. Both have adjustable paper guides to handle different sizes of paper. The output tray folds out from the body of the printer with a touch of a button, and an extension flap folds out to corral longer pages. Unfortunately, while there is a door in the back of the printer for clearing paper jams, the printer isn't set up to handle straight pass-through, which is sometimes problematic if you're printing on stiffer media that resists bending, such as card stock.
The control panel is mounted on a "shelf" on the front of the printer. A two-line text LCD lets you navigate the various menus, but it's not backlit. Dedicated function buttons let you switch between copy, fax, and scan tasks. To access the menu for each task, first press the task button, then press the menu button. Left, right, back, and OK buttons let you drill up and down through the menus. Dedicated buttons let you change the exposure, reduce or enlarge, and alter image quality while in copy mode. You can also change the paper type (size and quality), as well as switch between the auto sheet feeder and the cassette with a touch of a button. Rounding out the control panel are fax-dedicated buttons (alphanumeric keypad and redial), task start buttons, and a stop/reset button.
To access and replace the ink tanks, simply lift up on the control panel shelf. The MP530 uses a five-ink system: dye-based black, cyan, magenta, and yellow, and a pigment-based black. The printer ships with full ink cartridges, and the printhead is conveniently labeled so that you know where each tank lives. A light mounted on the front of each tank tells you the status of that tank: low ink, empty, and whether it's properly installed.
Unlike the photo-centric all-in-ones, the Canon Pixma MP530 includes a fax function, making it a true office workhorse. We wish it was also network-ready, which would make it indispensable in a multiuser environment. Unfortunately, you can connect to it only via USB. You can get around that by connecting the MP530 to a router with a built-in print server or by buying a standalone print server, but a network-ready printer is a much more elegant solution. On the other hand, it does support both Windows and Mac operating systems.
One feature we really like on this machine is the built-in duplexer, which allows for automatic double-sided printing and copying. This is a boon for anyone trying to save money or the environment. When copying, you can reduce or enlarge by using preset ratios (25 to 400 percent), custom ratios (zoom), or automatic ratios (fit to page). You can also adjust the exposure and the image quality or copy to both sides of the page. Other special copy functions include 2-on-1 or 4-on-1 copy, sticker copy, borderless copy, image repeat, and collated copy.
When you connect a PictBridge-enabled camera, you can access the photo print menu by pressing the menu button. Here, you can change paper size and type and the image layout or optimise the image. While we really appreciated it when printers include media card slots, we can understand why an office-oriented all-in-one doesn't.
You can set up the fax function in a number of different ways, depending on your needs. The included user guide outlines your options from connecting to an analog phone line or an ADSL to adding an answering machine to the mix. For numbers you fax to often, you can program up to 40 speed-dial entries. You can even use the ADF for sending a multipage fax. Also, the fax's memory can store up to 150 pages, perfect for when you want to be discreet about incoming faxes or you just want to weed out junk faxes to save paper.
When scanning, you also have a broad range of options. Using the included MP Navigator software, you can quickly select your task and choose options. You can save the document to your PC as a number of different file types, print the scanned document or photo, attach the scan to an e-mail, or use the optical character recognition software to convert the scan into an editable text file. Using the ADF, you can also do batch scanning.
Befitting the Canon Pixma MP530's office-oriented status, it was quick at basic office tasks, but slow at photo printing. It printed text documents at a snappy 6.77 pages per minute, scanned black-and-white images at 5.64ppm, scanned colour documents at 5.22ppm, and copied at a rate of 3.83ppm. On the other hand, it printed 4x6 photos at a poky 0.29ppm. The HP OfficeJet 5610 offers faster colour scanning, but it's slower at everything else.
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The print quality was also impressive. The text prints were nearly perfect to the naked eye, about as good as it gets for inkjet printers. The colour graphics prints were also excellent: smooth curves, nicely saturated colours, grain-free colour blocks, and excellent photo elements. The only problem we saw was some minor banding in colour gradients. We also really liked the photo prints: good detail, great colour handling (a tad dark, perhaps), and nice flesh tones.
Scan quality is often the downfall of all-in-one printers, but not so for the Pixma MP530. The colour scan showed excellent detail and smooth gradients. The colours were a bit on the light side, but nothing egregiously bad. The grayscale scan also displayed nice detail and a good handling of patterns. The Canon Pixma MP530 is an all-around impressive performer.
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Canon provides a one-year limited warranty for the Pixma MP530 which you can extend 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.