Speed and quality tests
Since Canon picked up the ISO testing standards, their advertised print speeds have been very accurate and the MP640 was no exception. I found in Canon’s standard print mode that the MP640 was printing an average of 9 ppm in black and white with a first page out in about 11 seconds. Add color documents into the mix and the average dropped to about 7 ppm with a first page out in about 13 seconds.
In Canon’s fast mode, the MP640 printed an average of 11 ppm in black and white with a first page out in about 9 seconds. With color documents, the MP640 printed an average of 9 ppm with a first page out in about 10 seconds.
Decent print speeds for an photo inkjet printer; I did find that with larger files or documents, there was increase in pauses in the middle of jobs – sometimes up to 20 seconds – which can slow down print speeds. I’m not sure if the lag in printing was caused by having the MP640 set up over a network.
Photo speed was better than many inkjets on the market with an average print speed of 30 seconds for a 4×6 print and an average print speed of just over a minute for an 8×10 print. In fact, I got a 4×6 in as fast 19 seconds and an 8×10 in as fast as 55 seconds.
Quality wise, the Pixma MP640 prints great photos on a range of paper sizes. Compare the Pixma MP640 8.5×11 balloon image to the Artisan 800 8×10 image or the original digital shot; you can tell that the MP640 is a worthy opponent. If lab quality print outs are a priority, the Pixma MP640 is a safe bet.
Original image, left; Artisan 800 image, middle; Pixma MP640 image, right
It also prints out decent text but I’m not sure it can compete with laser quality text. What I will say for the MP640 is that the fast mode quality isn’t far off from the standard mode. I would definitely print out a report or paper in draft mode without blinking an eye. There are no noticeable errors and the text is dark and easy to read.
Ink control tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges; exhaustion meaning the printer will not print another “quality” document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.
The Canon PIXMA MP640 includes one Canon PGI-220 pigment black ink tank and four Canon CLI-221 standard-capacity dye-based color cartridges – cyan, yellow, magenta, and black.
At the ratio of 3:1 in Canon’s Standard Printing mode, the Pixma MP640 printed 386 pages before the pigment black ink cartridge expired (ran out of ink) followed closely by the magenta cartridge. The Pixma MP640 will allow you to continue to print after the pigment black ink expired but the Canon status bar throws up an error warning against printing due to possible printer damage. Since I was in the middle of printing a large document, I hit continue and ended up printing well over 400 pages even with the pigment ink expired. Of course, being the worrier that I am, I immediately changed the cartridge when the job was completed.
I’d also like to mention that I experienced zero paper jams during my review but I did get blank sheets mixed into my documents; not a huge deal but something I would recommend checking for before turning in a project or paper.
The Pixma MP640 is an inkjet printer so I wasn’t expecting a high energy usage. The MP640 never went above 25W while performing any function but the highest surges were during printing, as one might imagine.
Usually when printing a medium to large sized document, the MP640 hovered in the 17-22 W range. When scanning a photo or document, the MP640 consumed about 7 W of energy. In ready mode, the MP640’s energy usage dropped to about 5W.
Like its big brother, the Pixma MP990, the MP640 uses only 2 W of energy in sleep mode (the LCD is off).