While cheap home printers have been in plentiful supply recently, low-priced home-office models aren't as common. Canon's new range of printers is going aggressively after just this market.
See: more cheap printer reviews.
Available for less than £50, the Canon Pixma MX395 comes with not just printing, scanning and copying facilities, but also adds a 33.6kbps fax machine. Crucially, the latter is bolstered by a 30-sheet ADF, allowing you to feed in bundles of documents at a time.
What you don't get with it, though, are the little fripperies associated with home models. So there's no memory-card drive and no port for USB memory sticks, for instance. You can use the software interface (more of this below) to scan to cloud services (like Evernote and Dropbox), but it isn't as easy as some models to get images in and out.
Probably more crucially, the Canon Pixma MX395 doesn't have wireless facilities – or, for that matter, any network support such as the trusted ethernet – so you're stuck with a USB connection.
For home office users this may prove an annoyance; many users will need to pay an extra £14 and get the MX455. This adds support for USB sticks as well as Wi-fi (but still no ethernet).
The substantial yet delicately curved black MX395 makes an attractive addition to any desk. Its relatively sleek control panel is very neat given the number of buttons it needs to satisfy fax users.
It doesn't have the clever customisable control panel of more expensive Canons, and so you are stuck with the full 25-button panel regardless of whether you're using the fax or not.
Luckily, the interface is reasonably simple to navigate. It uses a simple text display rather than the colourful LCD screens employed by most home models. We found that the printer mostly did what we expected, so you may not need to use the interface very often.
The paper feed is a little awkward though. The output tray is situated directly above the 100-sheet input tray, so finished prints quickly obscure the input tray. This isn't the most elegant solution, and we would have preferred better separation of the two trays.
It's hard to ignore the MX395's software bundle, and the faintly obtrusive Quick Menu automatically loads up, consuming a good chunk of your desktop space before you've fired up a single application.
You're presented with a rich choice of options, though, from the cards-and-calendars creator Creative Park Premium, to the photo scrapbook My Image Garden, and the Easy-Webprint Ex add-in for Internet Explorer that allows you to quickly grab and print sections of web pages.
How many of these programs will really be of interest to business users is open to question, but it's hard to argue that Canon doesn't offer plenty of software with even its cheaper models.
Canon Pixma MX395: Performance
The Canon Pixma MX395 isn't the fastest of models, churning out text pages at a rate of 9.5 pages per minute. The quality at this level is too patchy to be used for anything other than draft documents, and while the middle 7.4ppm mode is darker, it also lacks text clarity.
In truth, even the highest quality 1.9ppm mode lacks the quality of output that home-office users will need for business correspondence. If text is a priority, those on a very limited budget are better off going with a cheap laser printer like the Pantum P2050.
When it comes to colour graphics, though, it's a different matter. Here the Canon Pixma MX395's output is bright and cheery. Even at the fastest 3.5ppm mode, colour fidelity is surprisingly good, and with the addition of photo paper, the best results in the highest quality 0.6ppm mode are sparkling.
The scanner is also highly effective, producing faithful scans with relative ease.
The Canon Pixma MX395 doesn't use separate colour tanks, so you only have to buy two cartridges for it. On the downside, if you use rather too much of one colour, you will have to replace the entire tank long before it’s actually drained dry.
It won't prove a cheap printer for text, with mono costing 2.8p a page – even with the most economical high-capacity cartridges. Colour, though, isn't much more expensive, working out at around 4.7p a page. That price may well double should you wish to print full page photos though.