Canon Pixma MP630 review

20 Oct 2008

Still a lightning-fast, high-quality all-in-one, but only worth grabbing once the last MP610s disappear from retailers

Price when reviewed: 
113(£121 inc VAT)
5

For several Labs in a row, Canon's wonderful Pixma MP610 all-in-one has finished so far clear of the competition that we expected this review to be something of a formality. At first glance the MP630 appears to be almost identical to its predecessor so surely, we assumed, there must be some tweaks under the hood to make it even better.

What changes there are, however, seem minor: a couple of centimetres have been shaved from the depth, a further 12mm from the height, and just over a kilo from the weight, making it more of a streamlined beast than before. A single USB input sits on the rear, while the old flip-up control panel remains centre-front with its 2.5in colour display, scroll-wheel and option buttons. A door for the memory card slots sits bottom-right, above the PictBridge port, while there are some nice little touches like the output tray automatically flipping open if you start a job with it closed.

But if the outside looks familiar, we were right to think the internals would be where the changes have been made; unfortunately these tweaks are not all for the better. As with the standalone iP4600, the old ink tanks have been replaced by the new range of 520 and 521 cartridges. You still get separate pigment-based and dye-based blacks, for maximum quality in both text and image printing, but the cartridges have been altered. Capacities are down a little - the pigment-based black will give a quoted 350 pages, compared to 505 from the old MP610, for example - yet prices are significantly higher: up from £3-£4 each to around £8 for colour and £10 for black.

It would be a bizarre enough change without any other impact, but the print engine is actually slower than it was before. Draft print speed is down to 10.5ppm from 14.6ppm. Standard text is 6.8ppm, down from 8.8ppm. And it took nearly twice as long to print five mono A4 copies as its predecessor. It's only in colour printing that it performed to our satisfaction, matching the MP610's 4.5ppm A4 print rate, producing a 6 x 4in photo at best quality in 45 seconds, and beating it at colour copying.

To be fair to Canon, the MP630's print quality is almost identical to our old MP610 test results, with just a slightly paler red from the new device to distinguish the two. Thus, text is perfectly thick and well defined, colours are generally very accurate with no bleed and excellent gradients. The scanner also appears to be slightly improved, with more defined edges and, to our eyes, more detail, which transfers to slightly better quality copies.

While much of the above may sound like quite a damning indictment of the MP630, when viewed next to the rest of the competition it's still a superb printer. It's quicker and produces better quality results than any other affordable all-in-one out there, and it undoubtedly deserves its recommendation. If its predecessor hadn't existed we'd be raving about it.

But we can't escape the nagging feeling that Canon has sabotaged its own best-seller for a higher profit margin on the consumables, and for that reason we'd urge potential buyers to first search around for the last few remaining MP610s - only once that avenue has been exhausted should the MP630 be considered, hands down, the best all-in-one on the market.

Details

Price ex VAT £98
Price inc VAT £113
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 9600 x 2400dpi
Ink-drop size 1.0pl
Integrated TFT screen? yes
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Power and noise

Dimensions 450 x 368 x 176mm (WDH)

Copier Specification

Fax? no
Fax speed N/A
Fax page memory N/A

Performance tests

6x4in photo print time 45s
Mono print speed (measured) 11ppm
Colour print speed 5ppm

Media Handling

Borderless printing? yes
CD/DVD printing? yes
Input tray capacity 150 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? no
Bluetooth connection? no
WiFi connection? no
PictBridge port? yes

OS Support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported? yes