The Canon Pixma MX320 is a multifunction printer, scanner, copier fax that comes with a rare bonus: honest print-speed figures.

Honesty in the printers market has always been something of a relative term. While many figures are plastered across advertising leaflets and specifications list, many of them have little relevance to realworld performance.

And few areas have attracted more criticism then the highly subjective numbers posing as true estimates of how many pages a printer can churn out per minute. With the manufacturers' stated figures frequently two or even three times faster then the actual results, it's unsurprising that consumers are both irritated and confused.

And so we applaud the new ISO IEC 24734 initiative, an industry measurement standard that purports to offer a consistent means of testing and comparing print speeds, regardless of manufacturer.

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The Canon Pixma MX320 is the first printing device (it's actually an MFP, also offering scanning, copying and fax facilities) we've seen that comes with the ISO IEC 24734 figures.

How accurate is it? Well, in something of a first for a printer or MFP, our real-world text figure was actually slightly faster than the Canon Pixma MX320's stated figure - 8ppm rather than 7.5ppm.

The graphics speed was slightly slower, but the difference was only small - 3.8ppm rather than 4.5ppm. We hope more manufacturers start using the ISO IEC 24734 figures - until it becomes an industry-wide standard, those companies using it are likely to suffer from the glaring reality exposed by the lower, but more accurate, figures.

As it turns out, the new measurement is far and away the most radical thing we can note on the Canon Pixma MX320 - an MFP that performs adequately, but without obvious distinction.

This ‘good in parts' approach is demonstrated perfectly by the Canon Pixma MX320's looks - its polished casing is attractive, but the bulbous styling detracts from the overall effect. The two-line LCD is competent, but the control panel seems somewhat old-fashioned. In fairness, we have noted this with many an MFP that offers functional fax facilities - the need to have a full number pad tends to make it difficult to offer the same minimalist chic as less well-specified devices.

The Canon Pixma MX320's menu system itself is full of detail (the cleaning features are particularly deep, even allowing you to target the roller or bottom plate), although the huge amount of repetition across the various options means that you're actually getting less then you'd think. Typical of the slightly confused approach is the Quick Setup page - it's a good idea, but a few less options on the screen would have been more in fitting with the ‘Quick' concept.

NEXT PAGE: the Canon's feature set

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