Hitting that perfect business printer sweet-spot where price meets functionality meets high performance, the MF6180dw is a brilliantly positioned mono multifunction device. It offers scanning, copying and faxing besides impressive print facilities, and easily pulls ahead of the Kyocera Ecosys M2030dn in the battle for the mid-£300 business choice.
It lays the groundwork early on, and its clean cream livery and substantial yet not oversized exterior allow it to slot seamlessly into an office environment, yet without fear of proving overbearing.
A five-line LCD control panel could perhaps be slightly easier to navigate, but there are some lovely nods to convenience. Providing one-button functionality while not overcrowding the control panel often proves an intractable problem for printer manufacturers. Canon, though, uses ingenuity to cut the Gordian Knot.
Canon i-SENSYS MF6180dw: fax facilities (yes, it's still a thing)
The fax facilities, for example, allow for up to 19 speed dial settings. Yet rather than have this many buttons plastered across the printer, only the first seven speed dial settings are placed on common view, with the remaining 12 hidden away underneath the flip-up top. Touches like this help make the MF6180dw an intelligent yet versatile exhibit.
You have plenty of options when it comes to the paper handling, too. A chunky 250-sheets can be fed in as default, with an additional 50-sheet multi-purpose tray. That should be enough for many offices, but if you have more demanding needs, a further 500 sheets can be added, bringing up maximum facilities to 800 pages.
Such capabilities are very much in line with printers at the price - the Kyocera M2030dn is essentially identical in this area.
Canon i-SENSYS MF6180dw: scanning
The Canon's ADF blends seamlessly with its other multifunction components, allowing for full duplex sheet-fed scanning of up to 50 sheets at a time. Should you not want sheet-fed scanning, you can use the flatbed instead, which offers businesses a range of high-quality scanning options.
Quality is good, and A4 sheets can be scanned in full colour in 12 seconds (at 300 dpi); or 29 seconds at 600 dpi. Attention to detail is good, and the flatbed can even expand to take in books, brochures, and other thicker material.
The ethernet port is a standard 10/100 rather than gigabit specification, although the model remains highly versatile, adding wireless 802.11b/g/n capabilities to the USB.
Canon i-SENSYS MF6180dw: print and connectivity
You can effortlessly send prints and other files to USB memory drives using Canon's smooth interface, and Secure Print means that confidential documents don't need to be printed out until the sender is standing in front of the Canon, ready to type in their password. The Canon can also hook up to mobile devices.
For serious users, though, the support for PostScript 3 will be of the most importance - this is one of the key differences between this and the cheaper MF6140dw.
Canon i-SENSYS MF6180dw: speed
The Canon MF6180dw doesn't quite compare to the Kyocera M2030dn on speed, but its real-world performance of 24 pages per minute is still very respectable - it's faster than Canon’s own LBP7780Cx, for instance.
Strangely, Windows defaulted to the Fax driver. That's not the only default setting likely to confuse some users, and as part of its drive to keep print costs to a minimum, Canon has the MF6180dw default to auto-duplexing mode. This model is pretty proficient at duplexing, with performance falling off by just 43% to 13.6 ppm. Quality was strong throughout, with a clarity of character and bold texturing that makes beautiful work of the stodgiest of documents.
Mono graphics (17.6 ppm) are also capably handled, with plenty of depth to the greyscale, and clean lines. The Canon is consistently excellent across the board for print quality, whereas the M2030dn had a few too many lows our our liking.
The Canon also wins out handsomely on running costs, and is extremely economical to run for a mono laser at this price level. The high-capacity toner allows a cost per page of just 1.5p.
We're trying to find fault with this model, but it really is beautifully conceived and configured. We might perhaps wish for gigabit networking rather than older 10/100, and the standard memory of 256 MB (the Kyocera has double this) is a little skimpy. In general, though, it's a fantastically versatile model that covers all bases in impeccable style.