Canon's Pixma MX410 colour inkjet multifunction printer offers a classic set of budget tradeoffs. For a low price, you get Wi-Fi connectivity, an automatic document feeder (ADF) with manual two-sided scanning and superb text output. Features are otherwise minimal, however, and the black ink is expensive. In ink costs, Kodak's ESP C310 is a better deal in this price range (albeit with other limitations).

The Pixma MX410's design, while not state-of-the-art, is simple. The control panel's LCD is only two-line monochrome, but the buttons are logically placed, the menus are easy to navigate and all common functions require only one or two steps at most. Setup via USB is a breeze, and you get both a wizard and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) for wireless installation. The higher-end Pixma MX420 adds ethernet and fax, or if you don't need any networking, Canon's Pixma MX360 has just USB.

Except for the 30 sheet ADF, paper handling features are minimal, with a 100 sheet vertical rear feed and a front output tray. Duplexing is manual, but includes the ADF; you may scan two-sided documents in only two steps. Unfortunately, duplexing of any kind is not supported on the Mac.

As with other Canon printers, text and monochrome output is nothing short of superb when you print in best mode. Even in standard mode, it's exceptional. The Pixma MX410 also produces very nice draft copy, albeit at a slower pace than we've observed on other machines. Colour rendering is smooth, but it carries on Canon's tradition of adding an orangey tint to everything. For some images, this creates a warm, friendly vibe, but with human faces it often appears as if your subjects must have used spray-on tanner or heavy makeup.

The Pixma MX410's speed is adequate for home use. On the PC, pages consisting primarily of plain text and a few simple monochrome graphics printed at a rate of 5.6 pages per minute (ppm). Snapshot-size colour photos printed at a rate of 2.3 ppm on plain paper and 1.4 ppm on Canon's own glossy photo paper. While the Mac's text speed mirrored that on the PC platform, other jobs like a PDF with a mix of text and colour graphics on plain paper and a full-page colour photo on photo paper were quite a bit slower than average, at 0.7 ppm and 0.3 ppm respectively, half the rate of most printers in this class.

The Pixma MX410's ink costs are a little higher than average. Colour's not the issue: the standard-size tricolor cartridge (cyan, magenta, and yellow) costs £13 and lasts 244 pages, which works out to a decent 5.3p per page. The high yield colour cartridge costs £15 and lasts 346 pages or 4.3 also decent. It's the black inks that are pricier than average: The standard, 220 page cartridge will set you back £12.50, and the high yield one costs £21 for 401 pages. That's 5.6 or 5.2 ppp respectively, not cheap either way.

OUR VERDICT

Canon's Pixma MX410 is a decent light use choice among low-priced models, especially given its manually duplexing ADF, something missing from the like-priced Dell V313w and Epson Stylus NX420. If you print more than a couple of pages a day, however, it'd be worth your while to get a unit with better ink pricing.