The Canon MP540 offers a lot for the money. It’s an all-in-one device, which has the usual print, copy and scan functionality. In addition there are two paper trays and a digital memory card reader with a PictBridge port for direct photo printing.
Five separate ink tanks supply the print head with standard CMYK and a pigment photo black. There’s an LCD screen to assist with navigating the menus and options too.
The design of this Canon mirrors the rest of the Pixma multi-function line up. It’s a silver and black slab that folds away neatly when not in use. The only connection option is a USB port but at £99 that’s acceptable. The MP540 is up to the usual Canon quality, with robust flaps, doors and openings. One nice touch is that if you start to print without opening the output tray the MP540 automatically does it for you. A small but actually more useful feature than you’d imagine.
The quality of the printer is perhaps the stand-out feature of the MP540, with excellent photos and standard documents. Text was crisp and clean with really good character definition and even in draft mode text was impressive. A single page of text was ready in just 6 seconds and more than adequate for daily use. We also ran a mixed business style document through the Canon and found the results equally as good. Colours were accurate and text over colours and images retained definition and shape.
Photo quality is another strong area for the MP540 with excellent prints. Photos had a truly impressive finish with heaps of detail and accurate colours. It’s a bit slower than some of the Canon printers we’ve tested, but not by much. An A4 borderless image was done in just under 4 minutes, which is by no means terrible.
Scans were just as impressive with a good level of detail and colour accuracy. Mono copying was the only poor performance from the Canon during testing with a final result that was a bit washed out for our liking. A full A4 scan took just 21 seconds and the resulting file was sharp and accurate though the driver might annoy more experienced users.
Overall though, the Canon is capable of stunning image quality especially considering the price.The ink tanks cost £7.99 a piece for the standard C, M, Y and K inks, the pigment black is £8.99. Page yields for Mixed text and graphics in pages are: Pigment black 324, Black 3425, Cyan 535, Magenta 510, Yellow 530. The ink tanks are decent value for money and a smidgen over £40 to replace them all isn’t bad either.
We were really impressed by the Canon with its only weakness being a poor mono copy performance. The build quality of the Canon Pixma MP540 is superb and it has everything you could want from a cheaper all-in-one. The photo output from the Canon is worth the price alone and this device has a scanner and card reader to add to that.