Pay attention at the back, as this one is a little confusing. Canon makes a printer called the MP495, which it sells on its own website for about £80. However, Canon also has a deal with Dixons Store Group – which includes stores such as Currys and PC World – that allows them to sell the virtually identical MP499 for a mere £39.99.
However, it’s clear where compromises have been made. There’s no memory card slot; nor is there a proper LCD screen to display menu options and settings. This means that many routine tasks, such as printing a test page or cleaning the printhead involve opening the main printer driver or Canon’s My Printer software, which sits in the Windows Taskbar on your PC.
In fact, the printer driver include some handy options, such as the ability to ‘shrink’ multiple pages so that they can fit on to a single page, as well as some fun photographic effects. However, Canon’s printer software is quite complex, with options and settings scattered across several different dialog boxes. These features could perhaps be a little better organised to assist less experienced users.
Print quality is very good, though, with crisp black text that prints at a respectable six pages per minute. That speed drops a bit when printing colour text and graphics documents, falling to a more modest 3ppm, but that’s still acceptable for a low-cost printer such as this. Photos printed on standard office paper were a little paler than we’d have liked but photo quality leapt dramatically when using higher quality photo paper, producing very rich colours that actually bordered on the over-saturated. There is an option in the printer driver for manually adjusting colour balance. Again, this is something that might be a little complex for beginners to tackle.
It’s a mixed picture for printing costs. The relatively high cost of Canon’s black ink cartridges pushes the price of mono printing to an above-average 6p per page. However, the ‘tri-colour’ ink cartridges cost about the same as those of rivals such as the Advent AW10, so colour printing costs are closer to average at around 12p per page.