There’s a growing range of printers and all-in-ones for budget or casual users, and Canon has always had a healthy selection of models that won’t break the bank. It’s newest range includes the MP495 - retailing for £79, it’s currently available from a range of online stores for under £50, which considering it’s design and feature set is quite reasonable.
The MP495 doesn’t betray its “budget” roots when first unpacked - it’s an unassuming but attractive device finishing in sleek piano black with a slimline scanner lid, neatly designed paper trays that slot tidily away when not in use and a range of controls and notification LEDs along the right-hand side of the top panel. These controls are well conceived and offer decent access to the key features of the device, though we can see most users opting for on-screen control via the proprietary print menu instead. It features built-in Wi-Fi, offers print, copy and scan functionality and boasts a 100-sheet input tray and manual duplex printing.
Setup is fairly straightforward but the lack of a display on the device itself does mean that following the on-screen prompts on a computer carefully is required to successfully set-up a wireless connection.
The MP495’s quoted print speeds are refreshingly understated and therefore far more accurate than we’d learnt to expect in this area. During our tests it outputted a 10-page document at a rate of 6.6ppm - not far behind the 8.8ppm quoted, and this rose to 8ppm when switched to draft setting. Standard quality is extremely good and though contrast is noticeably reduced when opting for draft mode, it’s would still be perfectly acceptable for most purposes.
Canon also claims that its new model is a bit of a whiz with photos, though sadly there’s no PictBridge USB connection or card reader to accept direct prints from devices. Outputting a full-sized A4 print at the highest quality settings took just over 3 minutes, but sadly the resultant quality was below our expectations. Images were overly dark and therefore lost a significant amount of vibrancy compared to the original, in addition to displaying a rather fuzzy hue and lack of sharpness that certainly wouldn’t make this device suitable for “photo quality” output. This was also apparent when outputting text and graphics, though less demanding images such as graphs and simple diagrams fared better and would just about be suitable for professional presentation.
As a scanner the device suffers from similar issues to photo printing and while fairly fast at around 30 seconds to return an image on a computer, we were again confronted by a representation that’s a little too dark and a little too grainy for our tastes.
Though reasonably priced and nicely designed then, the MP495 is clearly more comfortable working with documents and those looking for a cheap all-rounder to handle photo printing should be aware of its limitations.
The Pixma MP495 is a capable printer with a nice range of key features at a low price. Its photo capabilities do let it down somewhat, but at this price it’s hard to be too critical over an entry-level model that still represents good value for money. As a casual option to improve productivity in the home it would suit if professional-quality image output isn’t a priority.