The Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw ($529) is a color laser printer built for serious paper handling and printing needs. Made for small and medium-size businesses, the MF743Cdw has a monthly page volume of up to 4,000 pages to handle a larger workload than any home printer. It's also outfitted with a fast, 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), performs simultaneous two-sided scanning and can accommodate an additional 550-sheet paper cassette. Between the strong feature set and fast performance, the Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw is the best laser printer we've seen for small businesses and is among the best printers you can buy period.
The MF743Cdw weighs a hefty 64 pounds, so it's a two-person job to move it around. It's large, measuring 18.8 x 18.8 x 18.4 inches, and you'll need clearance above it to fully lift the scanner lid. The document feeder sits atop the unit; you access it by lifting a hinged cover that serves as the document feeder's input tray. There is also a 50-sheet multipurpose bypass tray; to use it, you fold down the front panel. The output tray, which is a cavity in the front of the body, can hold 75 sheets. The MF743Cdw has a recommended monthly page volume of up to 4,000 pages.
Stand-alone operation goes smoothly using the large, 5-inch color touch screen on the control panel, which allows swiping to move icons, like a smartphone screen. The touch screen allows you to create on-screen buttons for key functions, such as scanning and copy presets, passport and ID Card copying, and print templates.
You can connect directly to the MF743Cdw via NFC (near-field communication): Next to the large color touch screen is an icon indicating where you establish an NFC connection with your mobile device. Wi-Direct is also supported. On the front is a USB Direct print port that supports printing of JPEG, TIFF and PDF files. Ethernet and fax ports are on the back.
The MF743Cdw can store up to 299 fax numbers, 281 speed dial numbers, and hold up to 512 pages in fax memory. It can scan both sides of two-sided documents simultaneously, and perform duplex faxing.
Changing the toner cartridges is easy. The four cartridges sit in a slide-out tray that is easy to access from the front of the unit.
The MF743Cdw printed our five-page text document in 26.6 seconds (or 11.3 ppm), which was slower than the category average of 21.7 seconds, or 13.8 pages per minute. Printing a 10-page text document two-sided document took 2 minutes and 34.7 seconds, or 3.9 ppm. By comparison, our Editors' Choice monochrome laser multifunction, the Brother MFC-L2750DW, made two-sided prints in black-and-white at a brisk 13.2 ppm. Printing the five-page text document using the Canon Business Print app on an Android phone was almost as fast as printing from a Windows 10 computer, taking just 29.1 seconds.
The Canon was significantly faster than average at printing mixed text and graphics. It made a grayscale print of a six-page PDF in 26.8 seconds, or 13.4 ppm. (The average was a much slower 41.5 seconds, or 8.7 ppm). Using its speedy duplexer, the MF743Cdw made a two-sided print faster than our Editor's Choice HP LaserJet Pro M277dw made a single-sided print of the same six-page PDF in grayscale: The Canon did so in 43.7 seconds, versus 51.8 seconds for the HP.
Printing the same PDF in color hardly slowed the speedy MF743Cdw, taking just 29.6 seconds, or 12.2 ppm. Making the same single-sided print from an Android phone took 1 minute and 12 seconds, using the Canon Business Print app.
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Making two-sided prints was somewhat slow, however. The MF743Cdw turned in a pokey speed of 3.9 ppm when using its duplexer, regardless of the document type. It took 2 minutes and 34 seconds to print a 10-page text document, and 1 minute and 33 seconds to print a six-page PDF with text and color graphics.
The MF743Cdw printed a full-page grayscale photo on plain paper in 20 seconds (the average was 17.1 seconds). Printing the same photo in color took 24.1 seconds.
Copy and Scan Speed
The MF743Cdw made a color copy in 13 seconds. The Editor's Choice HP Color LaserJet Pro M277dw did so in 15.2 seconds.
The Canon made a black-and-white copy in 9.3 seconds, faster than the average of 10 seconds. (The Editor's Choice HP M277dw took 12.7 seconds to make the same copy.) Using the ADF, however, the MF743Cdw copied a five-page text document in just 20.2 seconds, or 14.9 ppm. That's twice the speed of 6.5 ppm when copying a single page on the scanner glass. Making two-sided copies of text documents was similarly fast, at 13.1 ppm.
The MF743Cdw made color scans at 600 dpi quickly, generating a JPEG file in 25 seconds — much faster than the average of 34.7 seconds. Scanning to PDF in grayscale at 300 dpi was also faster than average: The MF743Cdw scanned a page in 9.5 seconds, versus the average of 10.9 seconds. The HP M277dw made the same scan 2 seconds faster, in 7.5 seconds.
The MF743Cdw printed text that looked very sharp and dark. Letterforms in the text documents printed from an Android phone looked comparably sharp. Graphics printed in grayscale had a lot of detail and smooth midtone transitions, although they looked too light overall. In contrast, the same images printed by the Editor's Choice HP M277dw looked too dark.
The Canon's color graphics looked sharp and well-saturated, although also a little light overall. Colors looked well-saturated and natural, and textures and midtone transitions looked smooth. However, when printing from a Windows 10 PC, the text boxes with a black background in our test PDF printed a different shade than the surrounding background, which printed in gray instead of the same shade of black. This did not happen when printing in grayscale or when printing in color from an Android phone.
Toner Cost and Yield
The MF743Cdw offers standard and high-yield cartridges. Using the standard $94 black toner cartridge, rated to last 2,300 pages, cost per page is 4.1 cents, which is average for laser multifunction printers we've tested. Using the $157 high-yield black-toner cartridge rated for 7,600 pages drops cost per page to 2.1 cents.
Cost per color page drops similarly with color cartridges. With standard color cartridges rated to last 2,100 pages, the MF743Cdw delivers cost per color page of 19 cents. This is significantly lower than 26 cents per page cost of the Editor's Choice HP LaserJet Pro M277dw. Using high-yield cartridges, the MF743Cdw offers a low cost per color page of 12.9 cents, compared with 16.2 cents for HP unit's high-yield cartridges.
Setup and Software
To begin setup, you remove a handful of pieces of packaging tape. The touch screen walks you through the setup, although it was a little cumbersome. For example, after selecting my country, I still had to scroll through the entire list of time zones on planet Earth to find the correct one (it didn't automatically exclude the Azores, Casablanca, etc.). To finalize the initialization, I was prompted to print an image and then scan it to complete the alignment process.
Installing the software from the DVD-ROM was straightforward, although the documentation did not tell me that the print driver for Windows 10 would not list the exact model name, but a more generic print driver name.
The included Canon MF Scan software works well. But for photo scanning it is not ideal: It lists sizes such as A4, A5 and Letter, but does not offer common photo sizes such as 4 x 6, 5 x 7 and 8 x 10.
Setting up the device via USB and putting it on my wireless network was easy, using the WPS push button method. However, finding the Wi-Fi setup was not entirely intuitive on the color touch screen, which did not offer a network settings icon on the top-level menu. I had to select Menu and then Preferences to find the Network settings menu.
The unit starts up quickly, in 11 seconds, and is able to produce a black-and-white copy less than 26 seconds after pressing the power button.
The same customization, called Remote UI, that you perform on the touch screen is also available via web browser and mobile device. In a web browser, you enter the printer's IP address to access settings, toner levels and set up presets to assign to buttons on the printer's touch screen. From an Android device, selecting Remote UI in the Canon Business Print app launches a web browser with the IP address already entered.
The Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw offers a lot for offices wanting speedy performance, low cost per page and robust paper-handling options. Outfitted with a fast ADF and simultaneous two-sided document scanning, the MF743Cdw delivers fast print speeds, scans quickly and makes multipage copies via the ADF in a timely fashion. Image quality is high across the board, and the large, 5-inch color touch screen makes stand-alone operation easy. Although duplex printing is somewhat slow, it's far outweighed by everything else this color laser multifunction printer has to offer.
Compared with our favorite inkjet printer for small businesses, the Canon Maxify MB5420, the ImageClass MF743Cdw color laser is nearly three times faster at printing color graphics, makes two-sided copies at 13.1 ppm versus 8.8 ppm, and scans faster in color to PDF format. That's enough for us to declare the Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw our new favorite laser printer for small business users.