Editors Choice: IDG (PC World/Good Gear Guide)
Canon PIXMA MX926 inkjet multifunction printer
- Versatile set of features
- Fast text page printing
- Good photo quality
- High initial price tag
- Gloss finish is a fingerprint magnet
- Non-XL/XXL inks are poor value
- High initial price tag
Printers may not be the sexiest or most interesting pieces of technology, but if you’re running any kind of business operation, or even a simple home office, odds are you’ll need to print something sooner or later.
Canon’s top office inkjet printer is a great all-in-one, competently handling multi-page document printing, the occasional photo print-out with excellent quality, as well as less common office tasks like faxing and multi-page scanning. Its $200 street price tag is higher than competing products, though, and you’ll have to buy XL ink tanks for the best value per page.
Canon’s PIXMA MX926 is an inkjet multifunction printer with all the bells and whistles. It’s designed for the home office user that has a lot of requirements, or a family with diverse printing needs.
Canon PIXMA MX926: Design, features and setup
The PIXMA MX926, as office printers goes, is quite compact. We like that Canon’s inkjet printers are relatively monolithic — they don’t have paper trays protruding from the front or top or back, so you can push them right up against the back of a bookshelf.
The MX926 has every surface finished in a glossy black plastic, which looks good but is one of the biggest fingerprint magnets we’ve encountered. It takes a fair amount of work to keep the MX926 looking clean with regular use, if you care enough to do so. In-built Wi-Fi networking is joined by wired Ethernet, and USB 2.0 for direct PC connection.
The MX926 is laid out in a way that makes it easy to use — there are no big surprises up here. There’s a massive 250-sheet plain paper input tray at the printer’s front base, with a 20-sheet dedicated variable-size paper tray slightly further up. The printer’s output tray pops open automatically when there’s a print job pending, although it doesn’t close afterwards.
Up top, the printer has a flatbed scanner capable of 2400x4800dpi, with a maximum sheet size slightly larger than A4. There’s a 30-sheet automatic document feeder for the scanner head, too, and it’s duplex-capable which makes digitising a multi-page, dual-sided document far easier than on a non-duplex-capable model. The PIXMA MX926 also has a 33.6kbps fax; if your business still needs to fax stuff, this drastically reduces the number of printers you can choose from, so it’s good to see the MX926 include it for peace of mind.
The printer’s controls are set out facing slightly upwards on the top, so they can be easily seen when the printer’s sitting on a desk at waist level or above. There’s a big 3-inch colour screen, and a four-by-three grid of glossy black squares that light up with symbols depending on which part of the printer’s menu system you’re in. It’s a simple idea that’s more responsive than a touchscreen and easier to see from a distance or without reading glasses.
Setting up the PIXMA MX926 is a relatively easy, albeit quite involved, process. Getting it out of the box for the first time means taking off all the orange plastic transport tape — it’s a fun game finding it all — and removing the cling-film keeping the glossy black exterior pristine. Once that’s done, you’ve got to plug it into the power and start it up for the first time before installing the ink cartridges, then follow the steps displayed on the printer’s display.
After you’ve got the cartridges installed, the MX926 goes through a five-minute alignment process, then a five-minute head cleaning — this is quite a wait, but it’s time we used to install the printer’s drivers on our Windows 8 test-bench. The driver package is lightweight at around 40MB — and you can choose not to install any superfluous software if you don’t want it.
Canon PIXMA MX926: Performance and print quality
The Canon PIXMA MX926 uses five ink cartridges. There’s a pigment black, used for monochrome document printing, and photo black, cyan, magenta, and yellow ink cartridges used for colour document and photo printing.
You can buy standard-size cartridges — CLI-651-BK, -Y, -M, and -C respectively — which are good for around 350 colour document pages (though the black is fine for around 1700). The standard PGI-650BK should produce around 375 pages. Each of these costs around $20 at street prices.
Far better value is paying a few extra dollars per cartridge for CLI-651XL cartridges, which more than double the number of printable pages per refill in most cases. There’s even an XXL-sized pigment black which boosts output to 1000 pages per refill, at only approximately $28 versus the $20 375-page standard — comparatively excellent value.
If you can commit to paying an extra few dollars per cartridge per refill — around $25 extra in total for a complete refill kit of individual cartridges — the MX926’s refills are impressively priced. Using this printer for anything but the highest volume of printing produces prices per page that are competitive with low- and medium-priced laser or LED printers, as well as any inkjet competitor.
When it comes to printing speed, the PIXMA MX926 gets along nicely for draft- or normal-quality documents. The first page can sometimes take 10 to 15 seconds as the printer spools, receives document information, and gets everything ready, but after that initial first page out we found that it stood up to Canon’s claims of 10 colour or 15 monochrome pages per minute.
Text print quality is good in the Normal quality mode, and excellent in Best. It’s slightly under-saturated and grey in draft mode, although still consistent and free of any skipped lines. We’d happily use the PIXMA MX926 to print text as small as 8pt, where it’s still smooth and detailed enough to be legible.
The PIXMA MX926 has a 9600x2400dpi print-head, so it should be able to print just about as finely as the top photo printers on the market. It does a really good job of fine detail in borderless A4 prints, as long as you’re printing from an appropriately high quality source. Print speeds are not great when you’re producing a high quality photo, even at 6x4in sizes, but we’re happy to wait for the MX926’s good results.
The MX926 has a quiet mode that can be enabled, slowing down print speeds slightly but saving your ears the drone of the print-head whizzing back and forth. We left this on for everything but our printing speed-test — given the option, we’d choose a quiet printer over a quick one any day. You can also set the quiet mode to turn on and off at specific times of day — when you’re working in your home office in the evening with kids around, having the printer as quiet and unobtrusive as possible is a smart move.
The PIXMA MX926’s driver interface may not look as modern or polished as HP’s, or Epson’s, but it’s straight-forward, easy to understand, and customisable. We opted to make the print status box pop up every time printing started, on top of all other dialog boxes, with an up-to-date ink level report — call us paranoid, but we like to know exactly what’s going on when we click Print.
Canon PIXMA MX926: Conclusion
Canon’s PIXMA MX926 produces monochrome and colour documents quickly, quietly, and clearly — they look great considering inkjets are usually inferior to laser printers in this area. High quality photo prints, built-in Wi-Fi, automatic duplex scanning and printing are icing on the cake.
If you’re looking for a versatile small office or home office printer, we’d give serious consideration to the MX926.