This MG5550 MFD offers print, scan and copy facilities, and follows very much in Canon's stylish Pixma range, with its curved edges and low 148mm design cutting an attractive figure. Not quite so pleasing is the long output tray that stretches out rather further than we'd ideally like. The control system is simplistic, and these Pixmas have yet to fully embrace touch sensitivity.
Instead, you navigate using three select buttons placed underneath the relevant on-screen options, with the occasional need to move across to a separate directional pad. It's the need to alternate between the central three-button system and the directional pad that can make negotiating the MG5550's many options a little less intuitive than it ought to be. The system works reasonably well for the most part, but we do think Canon could do away with some of the buttons for a better experience overall. The 2.5in screen is adequate, if hardly the largest we've seen.
Connectivity options are generally very good. There's no support for memory cards, but the Canon works smoothly with tablets and smartphones, and can be hooked up to the cloud using services like DropBox Flickr and Evernote. The MG5550 isn't aimed at businesses, so you don't get ethernet facilities. However, wireless 802.11b/g/n support is fully implemented.
At first glance, the printing performance may not seem that impressive. These days, 11.8 pages per minute isn't amazing, even for an inkjet. However, what's rather more impressive is that once you leave behind the fastest mode, and switch to the middle settings, the Pixma keeps up a figure of 11.1ppm. What's more, the output is wonderfully sharp, using the 4800x1200dpi resolution to produce text that (in inkjet terms) is immaculately defined, and magnificently sharp.
Canon's colour printing has long been considered the best overall, and it gives more hints here, with its medium 3.6ppm mode producing a particularly exciting mix of clarity and depth. We could see no defects in the finished prints, and even skin tones were wonderfully captured. The MFD can also handle auto-duplexing. Admittedly, it's not the fastest here, and the 53.4% fall in performance will likely see it consigned to occasional use, if that. For printing overall, though, the MG5550 is excellent at the price.
Scanning is fairly solid too. The highly adaptable lid can take a good variety of source material, and we were able to scan A4 images in 11 seconds, 15 seconds, and 46 seconds, at 150dpi, 300dpi and 600dpi respectively. These aren't fantastic times, but they're adequate. More to the point, the scans are well rendered, with lines captured perfectly, and the colour replicated with good fidelity.
The Canon adds to the overall package with a strong selection of inks. You have to use five in all. Three are colour tanks, but two different types of black tank are used. It's partly this variation that allows the MFD to achieve such impeccable black text and shading. The standard black tank has a very high 5565-page yield in its XL form. For print costs, though, we've stuck more with the still very pleasing 2.4p per page that the pigment black tank will cost you. Colour, at 4.8p a page, is very much in line with other printers.
The MG5550 isn't perhaps the best featured or best designed MFD we've seen. However, once you strip away the rarely-used fastest mode, the Pixma offers excellent speed and quality. As performance goes, this is the #1 sub-£100 model on the market. As such, it's perilously close to a gold award.