Since the introduction of the range in 2004, Canon’s Pixma printers have regularly delivered an intoxicating mix of good print quality, strong features and stylish design. The MG5350, then, is treading a distinguished path. But then, this is no bargain basement page churner.
The Pixmas have generally been amongst the most attractive of printers, and the MG5350 looks surprisingly sleek given a reasonably sizeable footprint. The polished black casing has a sweeping curve to it, and the various paper feeds tuck neatly away when not in use – only to automatically glide into place when a new print job is approaching.
A coterie of subtle blue lights lets you know when the printer is switched on, as well as signifying the status of the wireless connection. The centrepiece of the MG5350 is a beautiful 3in screen.
So glossy and colourful is this panel that it comes as a disappointment to find that it’s not touch sensitive. Instead, you have to use the buttons in front of the panel. But even this isn’t as easy as you’d think. Sometimes you need to punch the Home button. On other occasions you need to use the cursor buttons to scroll backwards and forwards. If you look closely and follow the instructions, you can generally journey through the system without any hitches, but it lacks the sheer joy of navigation offered by graphical touch-sensitive screens, such as those found on the best Lexmark printers, for instance.
That’s a shame, as the MG5350’s interface is very functional. You can tweak the eco and the quiet print modes. You can run off a range of interesting templates and disk labels. You can even print PDF files direct from a memory card. Many of these features are replicated in the attractive software interface installed onto your PC.
This printer has some interesting connection options as well. Besides the usual USB 2.0 and the 802.11b/g/n wireless support, the MG5350 marks an early foray into cloud computing. Those who store their images on Canon’s iMage Gateway service can access files from the MG5350 and print them out. In future years, this may be the standard approach to printing. For now, though, it feels fresh and reasonably useful. The technology will get faster, but for now it’s nice to just have the extra option.
You have a choice of paper feeds – either the versatile rear tray, or the cassette. Both of these can take 150 sheets, although we did find the cassette a little cramped and not always particularly easy to slide in and out. However, we applaud the attempt to give you an alternative paper source, so you won’t be constantly switching paper types in between jobs.
The memory card options are extensive, and you can also connect devices using the PictBridge port. Indeed, the Full HD Movie Print lets you run through HD videos and extract individual frames to print. In addition, you can print onto disks using the MG5350.
The very pleasing scanning component produces high quality reproduction, with its 2400x4800 optical resolution, and it captures colours with almost unerring accuracy. The lid has a certain amount of lift, allowing it to be repositioned for thicker materials.
The MG5350 has a reasonable turn of pace, putting out text in Fast and Normal modes at 12.2 and 11.3ppm (pages per minute) respectively.
Even in terms of inkjets, the text quality isn’t the crispest we’ve seen, although it is dark and bold, and could prove adequate for non-business use. Even in the highest 2.5ppm mode, the text lacks the clarity of the best inkjets (let alone lasers).
Text speed is also slightly inconsistent. In the Normal mode, in particular, print jobs often paused in the middle for as much as ten seconds at a time. There is an auto-duplex mode, although even on the Fast mode, this cuts the speed to just 5ppm – a drop of almost 60%, which in practice is likely to prevent it from being useful.
On graphics, the MG5350 fares better. Speeds are competent, with the Fast and Normal modes clocking in at 6.25 and 3.4ppm respectively. Colours are very reasonable on normal paper, and even in the Fast mode, the results are surprisingly palatable. Perhaps we’d like to see a touch more vibrancy to the colours in the Normal mode, but the print quality on normal paper is very decent, with virtually no image defects.
Drop in some photo paper, and the Canon is transformed, producing gorgeous images that drip with colour, even if you should expect to wait a minute per image.
The Canon uses five ink tanks – three colours, plus two different black tanks. The page yields for the two black tanks vary considerably, with the black dye tank coming with an estimated page yield of 2185 pages, but the black pigment tank is said to offer a rather lower 328 pages. This makes it tricky to estimate costs per page, but we suspect they’ll fall somewhere within the 2-2.5p range offered by many of the Canon’s competitors.