The Canon Pixma MX340 colour inkjet multifunction printer (with print, scan, copy, and fax capabilities) looks like a bargain until you factor in its pricey inks.
If you don't print much, however, the Canon Pixma MX340 offers just enough of everything else to enable a small or home office to get by.
The Canon Pixma MX340's two standout features are Wi-Fi connectivity, which requires a temporary USB connection during setup but is otherwise painless; and a 30-sheet automatic document feeder. The configuration also includes a letter-size flatbed scanner; a vertical, 100-sheet, rear input slot; and a front, foldout, 50-sheet output tray.
The front control panel's buttons for primary functions are clearly labeled. You use two arrow buttons to navigate menu items on the one-line, monochrome LCD. We had a hard time reading the LCD in dim lighting conditions, and the viewing angle is rather narrow. A backlight would have helped immensely. If you're looking for a colour LCD, media card readers, or ethernet, check out the Canon Pixma MX350, which is otherwise similar.
Canon bundles a plethora of useful scanning and printing programs with the Canon Pixma MX340. The abundance of software could be overwhelming, except that Canon makes it easy to choose between loading everything upon installation or cherry-picking what you want. Uninstalling is easy, too.
In our tests, the Canon Pixma MX340 delivered adequate performance. Its plain-text printing speed was consistent across PC and Mac platforms, at 5.8 pages per minute and 5.7 ppm, respectively. On the PC, 4-by-6-inch colour photos on letter-size media printed at a rate of 1.7 ppm. On the Mac, a near-letter-size image took 2.5 minutes to print (which works out to about 0.3 ppm); a 7.5-by-9.9-inch photo scanned at 600 dots per inch in 55 seconds; a 4-by-6-inch photo scanned at 1200 dpi in 90 seconds; and a single page of text copied in 21 seconds (a rate of 2.8 ppm).
Print quality was fairly good: text samples were pure black, though a little fuzzy around the edges. Colour images were bright, but an orange bias made some fleshtones look unnatural, and textures had an overall light graininess. Colour scans tended to be dark and lost some detail in shadowy areas; in other respects, however, they looked quite nice.
The Canon Pixma MX340's ink costs per page are higher than average, especially for black ink. The unit's standard-size supplies include a 200-page PG-210 black cartridge and a 244-page CL-211 unified colour cartridge. The high-yield options are also expensive.
If your print volume is low, you might be able to weather these costs; but if you plan to print a lot, step up to the Canon Pixma MX870 or another model that uses less expensive inks.
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