Setting up the Pixma MX512
The set ups for these devices continue to get streamlined, but you still have the basic steps: unpack, plug in, load ink, load paper, align print head and choose the connection type. You can use the Getting Started Guide, the setup through the MX512, the interactive setup through the CD or a combination.
I chose the wireless connectivity and I set it up using the control panel and it was relatively painless. Hit Start Setup and the printer will determine whether your router is WPS capable. If not, or you just don’t want to use this feature, the printer will search for all available networks and then you plug in your passkey the old fashioned way. Once the printer is connected, you’ll receive a confirmation.
At this point, if you haven’t already, pop in the provided CD. You’ll be asked to select language, confirm the connection (or setup the connection if you haven’t already) and select the software you’d like to install. From here, the wizard does most of the work. When the software installation is complete, the CD will pop out and the Canon Solution Menu EX will appear.
Ease of Use
I’ve always been a big fan of the Pixma line because Canon makes these printers so simple to use and so appealing to consumers. I know that the Pixma MX512 is a member of the Office AIO lineup, but I think these characteristics are still important.
The first thing you’ll notice on the Pixma MX512 is the feature packed intuitive control panel with easy to read quick keys, Dual Function Panel and a decent sized LCD. As we mentioned during the design overview, the Dual Function panel is a cross between the Intelligent Touch panel and the old Pixma control panel; it has the large, easy to read buttons of the old, but like the Intelligent Touch, the panel changes depending on the device you are using (scan, copy, fax, etc.) offering only the keys needed.
Pressing any of the quick keys will take you to the main device menu or users can select the menu button to scroll through the advanced device features. For instance, press the copy quick key and you’ll be taken to the copy screen for an easy and quick copy. Press menu and select advanced copy and you can choose between collated copies, borderless copies, photo copies and frame erase copies.
You can also access photos and certain documents (PDF files) through a USB flash drive or memory card using the front side ports. The printer differentiates between documents and photos automatically and the user can scroll through the list before selecting print.
On the software side, the Pixma MX512 features the Canon Solution Menu EX, which is basically a portal to all of the individual software, products, manuals, and settings pages. There are seven menus, including two menus that are full of shortcuts for printing photos and scanning images or users can bypass the shortcuts and access the applications directly. Other offerings include links to online Canon extras, purchasing supplies, getting help and adjusting settings through the new Solution Menu.
Get connected to My Printer, allowing users to change settings, get status updates, or troubleshoot problems (without delving into the on-screen manual). If you have multiple Canon Printers set up on your network, they can all be accessed through the same My Printer window.
Canon includes the Easy-PhotoPrint EX software with the Pixma MX512 because even as an office machine, it prints a full range of photos. I’ve used Easy-Photo Print software before and it is fairly easy to use; select your images, select your paper, and then choose the layout and editing options before hitting print. Users can also now import photos from Flickr using the Photo Sharing Site tool (a small globe).
The MP Navigator EX software has been upgraded to version 5.1, but the setup remains basically the same. It will still perform auto scan, automatically dividing multiple images into separate scans. It will also do gutter shadow removal for scanning books and the memory card/flash drive import option that allows users to pull all the information off of a memory card or USB flash drive plugged into a printer, eliminating the need for a camera, USB cord or external card reader to upload all of their photos.
You can also access the ADF through the Navigator software so scanning a large document and then emailing it to co-workers or customers would be a breeze. It also offers one-click custom scans as well as one-click preset scans (save as PDF, attach to email, open OCR, etc.).
All of our sample photos in the print quality tests were scanned in using the Canon PIXMA MX512 scanner.
Set up the fax machine using the Pixma MX512’s control panel via the Easy Setup wizard. I had no problems getting the MX512 to fax to our office machine and vice versa. With the MX512, you do have the option to set the printer to fax only or use it with a working phone line (as you would use it to make and receive calls).
Print Speed and Quality
When printing in Canon’s default print mode, the Pixma MX512 printed our 40 page black and white text document with a first page out in about 10 seconds and a print speed of 10 ppm; Canon advertises 9.7 ipm so it seems like Canon was right on the money. It took the Pixma M512 just over four minutes to print our entire 40-page document.
But like several Pixmas before it, the Pixma MX512 fell far short of the estimated 5.5 ipm in color, although this is the closest advertised speed I’ve seen to the actual print speeds. The problem results in the same lengthy pauses between each color page (the machine flashes a message advising that the previous page is drying) leaving the rate of speed when printing color documents of any substantial worth closer to 3 ppm.
Canon does offer a draft print mode by checking the fast priority box in the print properties menu, but there is no discernible difference from the normal print speeds. The fastest it printed during our tests was at a rate of 11 ppm and finished the 40-page document in four minutes, knocking off about six or seven seconds.
The Pixma MX512 offers automatic duplexing, but don’t expect a speedy turnaround. It took 16 minutes to print our 40 page text document; four times the time it took to print the same document in standard print mode.
Quality-wise, I was impressed with the Pixma MX512 as a budget office AIO. It did a good job printing black and white text documents (in both default and draft) and a decent job on color documents even when using copy paper although the images lack the sharpness of a laser color print.
But what surprised me was that the Pixma MX512 has continued where it left off with the Pixma MX882 as far as photo quality is concerned. As a sub-$200 printer with two ink cartridges, I was expecting decent photos, but I thought the MX512 did an above average job on the photo prints. The colors were richer than I expected and the details were good. The main issue is that the blacks are lacking, they seem more dark brown then deep black.
Print speeds were good, but not the best we’ve seen from a Pixma printer or its competition. The Pixma MX512 printed 8.5 x 11 inch prints in about two minutes whether printing in full color or black and white images. For 4×6 prints, it took less than a minute to print a color or black and white image (the fastest time we recorded was 50 seconds).
Ink Control Tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges. In this case, “exhaustion” means 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 MX512 comes with two standard capacity Canon cartridges: a Canon PG-240 pigment-based black ink cartridge and Canon CL-241 dye-based color cartridge. Canon does offer high capacity ink cartridges for the Pixma MX512: the Canon PG-240XL pigment-based black ink cartridge and the Canon CL-241XL dye-based color cartridge. These would probably be the preferred option for a business or home office, but since they weren’t included, we did not test those cartridges.
At the ratio of 3:1 in Canon’s standard printing mode, the Pixma MX512 printed about 257 pages when I noticed the quality of the prints had diminished. The status message will alert you when the cartridges are getting low but, like other Pixmas we’ve tested, the Pixma MX512 will keep printing until you replace the depleted cartridges.
It seems like manufacturers are getting away from the repeated messaging and/or complete shut down because the cartridges are running low or are empty. I like that the customer makes the judgment call on how much longer they will continue to use their cartridges.
I experienced zero paper jams during testing but, as always, the color processing times are frustrating.