The Canon Pixma MP980 is a capable all-in-one device that prints, faxes and copies documents in full-colour at a 4,800x9,600-pixel resolution. It features a unique six-colour ink bay that includes a special grey cartridge for more distinct greyscale photo prints. The £240 MP980 lends a hand to amateur photo enthusiasts with a large 89mm (3.5-inch) LCD screen, an easy-to-use control panel and a media-card reader, but we were disappointed by the difficult wireless set-up, the slower-than-average output speeds and the inflated price.
The MP980 is the same shape as the rest of Canon's MP series, but this year's model has had the shrink-ray treatment, measuring 470 by 201 by 386mm. The MP980 weighs a hefty 10.9kg because of the auto-duplexer built into the back for double-sided prints, so you probably won't want to move it around much on your work space. The silver and glossy black body exudes stylish professionalism, and the scanner lid sits so flush against the main body that you can barely tell it's there. The main output tray and control panel fold in to save space.
The control panel rests on the lid and houses a bright 89mm colour LCD display similar to the screen on the Pixma MP970. The menu is arranged in a circle, and you use the tactile dial on the base panel to access the different settings. The wheel and 'OK' buttons offer a satisfying click with each selection, but there's also a four-way directional pad surrounding the dial if you don't feel comfortable with the wheel. Most of the time, we preferred the scroll wheel, but the buttons are also easy to use when you know exactly where to go.
The rest of the pad contains the shortcut buttons, including a navi button for help with on-screen menus, a home button, instant colour and black copy keys, two buttons to increase and decrease the amount of copies, and a stop button to cancel a job in progress. Finally, two soft buttons sit directly underneath the screen for navigating through the on-screen menus.
The printer handles paper input via the main 150-sheet cassette, as well as another 150-sheet tray that folds out of the rear. We always prefer two input trays to one and found that using the main tray for plain paper and the rear tray for smaller photo paper was much more convenient than constantly switching the different sizes. We have a gripe, however, with the build quality of the main tray, which rolls out of the bottom and feels as if it's made of cheap plastic. Only time will reveal the tray's true durability, but we're disheartened by its flimsy feel out of the box.
The MP980 offers a collection of features that make life much easier for the home photo enthusiast. You can connect the printer to a computer through a standard USB cable, or to your network via the Ethernet port on the back, or even go wireless with the built-in 802.11b/g wireless print server. There's also a PictBridge USB port on the bottom, as well as a full media-card reader, for transferring and printing photos directly from a digital camera.
Unlike the competition, Canon doesn't include a wireless configuration tutorial with its software, so you might encounter problems similar to ours during set-up, which requires you to establish a USB connection first. After several days of trying to get our router to connect with the printer, we finally just started clean and reinstalled the driver. After that, everything went smoothly, but it might take you a couple tries before your system connects with the MP980.
The copier on the MP980 has all the features you'd expect from a multi-function printer. You can enlarge the original up to 400 per cent or simply fit the entire document onto a page. Other special features include two-sided copying, borderless copying, exact duplication, cropped copy, and two-on-one and four-on-one photo collages.
Scanning functionality is also typical, with options including sending a file straight to your PC, as an email attachment or scanned as a PDF. You can save all documents as TIFF, JPEG, bitmap or PDF files, and the scanner supports film and negatives as well. The negative and slide holders are accessible underneath the document protector below the lid. The scanner supports document sizes of up to 8.5 by 11 inches, but the fixed hinge makes it difficult to stretch the scanner cover over thicker documents and books.
The MP980 performed averagely in terms of speed across the board, as can be seen from the chart below.
The MP980's print quality suffers from a few problems. Text prints look fine at first glance, but, upon closer inspection, you can see many jagged edges and malformed lines. Colour text is marred by white blotchy marks within the letters, and, although smaller text should be clearly formed, it turns out thick and barely legible. As usual, we also printed out a page of colour graphics on plain paper to test print quality, and we were disappointed by the washed-out colours and under-saturation. All of the pictures on the document looked hazy and dim, especially the facial tones that normally appear vibrant on our monitor.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Photo speed (One Sheet)||Colour graphics speed||Presentation speed||Colour Text speed|
The Canon Pixma MP980 isn't a bad machine, but its rivals are faster and there's unwelcome issues with its print quality. The HP Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one, which throws in a fax machine and an auto-document feeder for less money, offers a better deal.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet