For its price, the Canon Pixma MP980 could be better in some ways, but it is, at least, progressive.
The control panel (integrated into the Canon Pixma MP980's scanner lid) is innovatively designed. Taking a cue from Apple's iPod, it features a scrollwheel that you push to rotate through menu items shown on the large, tiltable, 3.5in colour LCD. Rotating feels faster, but if it makes you dizzy, traditional four-way arrow buttons encircle the scrollwheel and serve the same purpose.
Two slim, black buttons below the Canon Pixma MP980's LCD handle context-sensitive on-screen options, but the buttons are a bit too far away from the screen to be obviously associated with it. The only really confusing part: a button called "NAVI" has nothing to do with navigation (our best guess); rather, it lets you jump to frequently-used functions.
The silvery, boxy design of the Canon Pixma MP980 has a lot of features - and some drawbacks. Connectivity includes USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi; a Bluetooth adaptor is a pay-for extra. An automatic duplexer offers easy, two-sided printing.
You get two input trays with the Canon Pixma MP980: one that slides underneath and takes up to 150 sheets of plain paper, and a rear-loading one that takes a wider variety of media. The rear tray's telescoping panels move awkwardly and feel cheap and rattlely. The output tray flips out automatically when you print, but it holds just 50 sheets.
One shortcoming particular to Canon printers: the media slots take CF, SD, and MS. But for any other kind of camera media (micro- or mini-SD and xD, among others), you'll need a third-party adaptor.
Compared to the competition in our tests, the Canon Pixma MP980 achieved average speeds of 8.1 pages per minute (ppm) printing text and 2.5 ppm printing graphics - but they're far short of Canon's claims of 26 ppm for text and 21 ppm for graphics. On plain paper, text looked very black and crisp; colour graphics looked a little pale, and flesh tones looked orangey. On Canon's own photo paper, images looked detailed and natural, though still a little on the pale side.
Ink costs are reasonable.
Considering the Canon Pixma MP980's price, we would have liked a faster machine with fewer oddities. However, it's solidly built and reasonably priced to run, and therefore still well worth considering.