The Canon PIXMA MP270 is one of the cheapest inkjet-based multifunction printers on the market.
With a price tag of £59 — to throw that into perspective, it's hardly more expensive than buying two full replacement ink cartridges — it’s surprisingly fully featured, offering scanning, photocopying and, of course, printing. Shop around online and you'll find the Canon PIXMA MP270 available for less.
Reasonably good scan quality makes the Canon PIXMA MP270 an easy device with which to digitise your old photos and documents, but its printing ability is nothing special and the device’s control panel interface can be confusing.
The Canon PIXMA MP270 sits between the ultra-budget iP2700 and the slightly more expensive MP490. It has the same basic layout as other PIXMA printers — a top-mounted scanning bed, controls on the top-right fascia, and a rear-loading paper tray. Unlike more expensive PIXMA models, there is no front-loading paper tray, so you'll have to keep the rear of the PIXMA MP270 accessible. The paper tray points almost vertically, so the printer can be placed as close to a wall as the rear-connecting cables allow.
One thing that shows the Canon PIXMA MP270 is a low-priced printer is the lack of a colour LCD screen on its control panel. Instead, an old-school green-and-black numeric display is used for showing current copy quantities and other functions such as navigating through maintenance options. The downside of such a simplistic screen is the constant need to refer to the printer's manual; since the screen can't display any extra descriptive information, you'll need to check the manual to find out which symbol is used for tasks such as print-head cleaning or the nozzle check, for example. We think this is the largest flaw in the PIXMA MP270's design, so if you value ease of use you should consider getting a more expensive model with a colour screen and a helpful interface.
Thankfully, setting up the Canon PIXMA MP270 is simple. Installing the PG-510 black and CL-511 colour ink cartridges is easy thanks to the clearly labelled slots which can be accessed by lifting the printer's top panel. Plug in the power, attach a standard USB cable (which you'll need to buy, since one isn't bundled) and the printer will install itself if you're running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. A CD is included for installing Canon's printing, monitoring and maintenance software, although Mac OSxisn't supported. You can also use the printer without a computer through the front-mounted USB port, which lets you connect a PictBridge-certified digital camera or other device.
When it comes to black and white printing, the Canon PIXMA MP270 does an acceptable job. It's not going to challenge significantly more expensive inkjets or laser printers when it comes to text clarity and print speed, but at just over eight pages per minute in standard mode, it won't leave you waiting too long either. Switching to high quality mode significantly affects speed for text and photo printing — you've got enough time to go and make a coffee in between full-colour photo prints. Text quality is acceptable; 7pt text is clear and legible with no smudging between characters.
Photo printing on the Canon PIXMA MP270 is definitely inferior to a 'proper' high-end photo printer such as Canon's own PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II, with visible vertical banding on printed A4 photos and poor fine detail reproduction. For 6x4in and A4 prints from your compact digital camera, it is well suited. If you have a digital SLR or high-end compact, you should opt for a more expensive printer to get the best possible quality.
Scanning with the Canon PIXMA MP270 was a surprise. We weren't expecting much, so we were pleased with the resulting image quality when scanning photos and text. Scans exhibited a good amount of fine detail and colour accuracy was reasonable. The scanning process was startlingly loud though, with a harsh mechanical whine throughout the entire length of the scanning tray.
The Canon PIXMA MP270 can hold 100 sheets of paper in its rear tray, and it has a quoted page yield of 401 black and 349 colour prints from full cartridges. Print costs are reasonable.
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