The Canon ImageClass MF8380Cdw costs more than its cousin, the ImageClass MF8080Cw, but is an infinitely better product. It's faster, it costs less to operate, and it produces better output.

It also offers automatic duplexing to save on paper costs and it's set to duplex by default, a first in my book, and major green kudos to Canon for that. On top of everything else, it's a very competitive workgroup colour laser multifunction printer (copy/print/scan/fax) in its price range.

The MF8380Cdw's automatic duplexing capabilities include copying, scanning and printing both sides of a document in one pass. The bottom-mounted paper cassette holds 250 sheets (100 more than the MF8080CW's maximum), and the ADF holds 50 sheets. There is no slot for envelopes as with the MF8080CW, instead the front folds down to reveal a 50 sheet multipurpose tray. The output tray holds a sizable 150 sheets.

The MF8380Cdw's control panel and printer driver lack the user friendliness that typifies Canon's consumer-oriented machines. The software seems incomplete, too: for instance, the Mac printer driver contained a valid list of paper types, but the Windows printer driver did not. The organisation and the placement of options in the driver are odd, too. On the other hand, the MF Toolbox utility for scanning and OCR is a model of efficiency and friendly design.

Setup via USB and ethernet connections is easy. Wireless, however, requires that you power-cycle the MF8380Cdw to switch from ethernet to Wi-Fi or vice versa. Note, too, that you cannot have both ethernet and Wi-Fi connected on the printer simultaneously.

Then things went wonky: The MF8380Cdw initially appeared incapable of detecting any of the Wi-Fi networks in our area, perhaps overwhelmed by the number (more than 20) that are detectable in our building. In locations with fewer networks, it successfully listed all of them. We tested this feature using manual setup and searching for SSIDs, not using WPS (Wi-Fi-protected setup), which the unit also supports.

Canon quickly provided a firmware update that partly fixed the earlier problem, though the MF8380Cdw still can detect only the 10 strongest network signals in the area. If yours isn't one of them, you can enter your network's SSID manually via the control panel.

The MF8380Cdw is slow for a workgroup laser MFP, due to a significant lag before the first page of documents shows up. Including the lag, text and mixed text and graphics printed at 11.1 pages per minute on the PC and 11.6 ppm on the Mac. A snapshot-sized photo took about 18.6 seconds (which works out to 3.2 ppm) to print on either plain, or photo glossy paper. Full page photos printed on the Mac at a lively 2.4 ppm. Scans were impressively fast: 8.5 seconds for previews, and between 12 and 17.2 seconds for final scans.

The quality of prints produced by the MF8380Cdw was very good overall. Text looked extremely sharp, and monochrome graphics were truly black-and-white, with none of the pinkish cast that plagues the cheaper MF8080Cw. Color photos were just a bit grainy, but they had a lively and warm palette. Flesh tones had a decided bent toward orange, unfortunately.

The MF8380Cdw's toner costs are better than average, but only if you buy the black in Canon's dual-cartridge Value Pack. The 2900 page cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges are available only as individual units and. The overall price for a four color page is reasonable, though not dirt-cheap. Note: The unit ships with 1200 page black and 1400 page colour "starter" cartridges.


The Canon ImageClass MF8380CDW does just about everything well and though its control panel and printer driver could be less clunky, this unit belongs on your small office's short list of colour laser MFPs.