The Canon Pixma MX700 is a double threat of a multifunction inkjet, combining high-quality output with fast task speeds. Though it lacks some options that would make it even more compelling as an office workhorse -- advanced fax features and a duplexer, to name two -- when compared to other AU$300 office-oriented inkjet multifunctions such as the Lexmark X9350, it comes out on top with the best combination of features and performance. It even improves on Canon's last-generation office multifunction, the Canon Pixma MP530, by adding an LCD, networking, and media card slots. Due to the somewhat limited fax functions and task speeds, the Pixma MX700 is best suited for offices with light print needs and those who can take advantage of non-office features such as photo printing. Small offices that need faster, high-volume text prints and more basic office functionality should look into low-cost laser multifunctions such as the Lexmark X340n or the Canon ImageClass MP4690, though you'll have to spend more money.
The Canon Pixma MX700's dark-grey exterior looks serious and ready for work. It stands 18.9 inches wide, 18.2 inches deep, and 9.4 inches tall and weighs 10.4 kilogrsms. A 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) tops the A4 flatbed scanner; using the ADF, you can scan legal documents too. The ADF's paper support folds forward to cover the paper feed when you're not using it -- a nice design touch that keeps dust and debris out the feed area. Mounted on the front are two memory card slots and a PictBridge-enabled USB port that let you print directly off memory cards or PictBridge devices such as cameras and camera phones.
The control panel is busy but well organised and easy to navigate. The centerpiece is a 1.8-inch colour LCD mounted on a pivoting panel. While the LCD is small for previewing photos, it's fine for perusing menus. Next to the LCD are menu and settings buttons, a four-way navigation button, and OK and back buttons for scrolling through menus. An alphanumeric keypad lets you enter fax numbers. And four task buttons -- copy, fax, scan, and memory card -- let you switch functions. Dedicated enlarge/reduce and fax quality buttons let you make those adjustments, and a feed switch button allows you toggle between the front and rear inputs.
You get your choice of two paper inputs: the rear input holds as many as 150 sheets of plain paper and can be used with all of the recommended paper types. The front input resides under the output tray and holds up to 110 sheets of plain paper. Canon recommends using the front input for plain paper only, as media entering the printer through the front bends around a roller -- a potential problem for thick media such as photo paper or very thin media like t-shirt transfers. Both trays have extension flaps that support and corral the paper.
The Pixma MX700 uses a four-ink system with individual ink tanks. The black is a pigment-based ink, ideal for text prints. The three colour inks are dye-based, better suited for graphics and photos.
The Pixma MX700's many features make it suitable for a small work environment with a variety of printing needs. It comes network-ready -- great for a multiuser office. And it prints, scans, copies, and faxes, so all the bases are covered. The only big feature it lacks is an autoduplexer for automatic double-sided prints. The print driver will assist you with manual duplex operations, though, with a pop-up window that shows you how to rotate and feed the paper.
Copy settings are standard on the Pixma MX700. You can scale between 25 percent and 400 percent using preset values (scale to fit) or custom values. Special copy options include 2-on-1 and 4-on-1 copies, borderless copy, image repeat, collated copy, fade restore for photographs, frame erase, and sticker copy.
Scan options include Save to PC, Save as PDF, Attach to e-mail, and Open with application. While you can choose the scan target and initiate a scan using the printer's control panel, most of the functionality lies with the MP Navigator EX software on your PC. You can choose the save location, pick scan-to applications, and edit scanned photos and documents. File format options include PDF, TIFF, JPEG, and bitmap. If you've installed the MX700 on a network, you can use the included Canon IJ Network utility to scan documents to PCs on the network. One feature that we'd like to see Canon start including in their multifunctions is the ability to scan to a memory card or to a USB drive connected to the PictBridge port. Canon currently doesn't support USB hard drive or USB flash drive connectivity, unlike the Lexmark X9350 and the HP Officejet 6310.
The fax options on the MX700 are very basic and may not suit the needs of some offices that require advanced fax capabilities. Though the control panel lacks dedicated one-touch dial buttons, you can program as many as 40 coded speed dials. If you need a visual reference, you can print out the speed dial list. Unfortunately, you can't save more than 40 entries, regardless of whether they're tied to speed-dial codes or not. Sending options are basically nonexistent. You can't send a group fax, nor can you schedule a fax to be sent out at a later time. Receiving options are likewise limited. The only option you have is to turn on memory receive, which stores incoming faxes in memory rather than printing them. (Memory receive is also triggered by low ink levels and lack of paper.) Unfortunately, the memory is not secured by a password. Other fax functions that we'd like to see include fax forwarding and junk fax blocking. The Lexmark X9350 offers many of these extra features.
The memory card reader accepts most common types of memory cards, though some will require an adapter (not included). You get two options for how to choose photos: you can either go through the contents of your card, changing the number of prints along the way, and starting a batch print when you're done, or you can print as you go, making changes to photos individually. View options include standard, full screen, enlarged (you'll need to use the directional keys to scoot around to see the entire image), and slide show. As far as editing goes, you can edit manually to some degree or turn on the Auto Image Fix (doing so greys out the manual options). The manual options include red-eye reduction, vivid photo, photo optimiser, noise reduction, face brightener, image optimiser, and colour effects (sepia and illustration). These are manual options in that you can pick and choose which to use, but they operate in a binary on-off mode. More discrete options include tweaking the image's brightness and contrast.
Special photo print options include layout prints, sticker print, print all, and an index print. Unlike Canon's photo-oriented multifunction, the index print isn't scannable. Additionally, it doesn't list the file name, just the image number, so it's of limited use as a reference.
Performance and image quality
When compared to similarly priced, work-oriented inkjet all-in-ones, the Pixma MX700 came out on top in print and copy tests, but fell to the middle of the pack with scanning. It sped through the text printing tests with a score of 7.41 pages per minute (ppm). The MX700's closest competitor was its own sibling, the Canon Pixma MP530, with a score of 6.77ppm. The MX700 was also quick with 4x6 photo prints, scoring 1.05ppm. It scored a fast 3.95ppm with copying using the ADF; none of the other printers broke 2.0ppm with copying. When scanning a greyscale document, the MX700 scored 5.03ppm, far behind the Lexmark X9350's 7.99ppm, but still outscoring the rest of the field. It fell a little further behind with colour scanning, scoring just 4.74ppm, behind both the Lexmark and the Dell 966.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In our task quality evaluations, the Canon Pixma MX700 excelled, keeping pace with the Pixma MP530. Its black text prints were sharp, dark, and consistent; close inspection showed some minor jagged edges, but overall, the text prints were excellent for an inkjet. The colour graphics print was also impressive, with great colour reproduction, smoothly saturated colour blocks, and sharp detail in photo elements. The 4x6 photo also showed sharp details, but had a very faint yellowish cast. Skin tones need more warmth and we noticed a very faint graininess present. You can see it only when looking very closely, but it's there nonetheless.
Both colour and greyscale scans were impressive. We saw lots of detail, good reproduction of patterns, and great colour accuracy. Overall, the MX700's print quality makes it good for both general office printing, such as documents, and graphical work.
Canon offers a standard one-year warranty for the Pixma MX700. E-mail support is available 24-7 via a Web-based form. Canon's standard online support options include downloadable drivers and software, manuals, and FAQs.