Just how much printer can you get for less than $100? The $80 Canon Pixma MG5620 answers that question with strong output quality and speedy print and scan times. This device even comes with a dedicated photo black cartridge that helps it create more accurate dark areas in photos, a premium feature that helps make it the best value-priced all-in-one we've tested.
At 18.0 x 14.6 x 5.9 and 13.6 pounds, the Canon Pixma MG5620 is nearly identical in size but quite a bit heavier than the Epson XP-410 (15.4 x 11.8 x 11 inches, 9 pounds), but thanks to the standard horizontal front-loading paper tray is smaller than the Epson.
The Pixma's front panel features buttons and a 2.5-inch, non-touch LCD screen, which is common in sub-$100 printers. The user interface of the Pixma MG5620 is a little bit confusing, with function buttons under the display sometimes being used for selections and the four-way control switch next to it being used for other functions. During our tests, we sometimes didn't know which button to press, but frequent users will undoubtedly get past this learning curve.
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After we unboxed it, put in the ink, plugged it on and hit the power button for the first time, the Pixma MG5620 took 8 minutes and 3 seconds to complete its setup process. That includes a seemingly useless step where the printer asked us to evaluate a test print and determine if it was acceptable, without giving us any idea what "acceptable" would look like.
Pixma owners should take special care any time they install new ink cartridges. During our testing of both the MG5620 and the MG7520, both of which use the same consumables, the cyan cartridge spurted ink on our hands when we removed its tape.
The Wi-Fi printing setup is pretty straightforward. A one-touch router sets up with nearly no effort while a password-secured access point takes longer because it requires using the four-way control and a virtual keyboard to enter passwords.
Once the device is connected to your network and the drivers are installed, wireless printing and scanning with the MG7520 is as easy as using a USB cable. With Wi-Fi printing enabled you can also print to the MG7520 from mobile devices and via photo-sharing sites like Flickr.
The Canon Pixma MG7520 comes with a bundle of software for both Mac and Windows users that includes My Image Garden, which helps you organize, scan and output your photos. Easy-PhotoPrint Ex lets you create photo albums, disc labels, calendars and more. Easy WebPrint Ex is a plug-in for Internet Explorer that makes it easier to output Web pages. That's a solid bundle of apps for a printer at this price, and more than is offered with the competitive Epson and Brother devices.
The Canon Pixma MG5620 offers solid black-and-white speeds with blazing-fast photo output. It completed a single page of black-and-white text at the Normal setting in 16 seconds, 3 seconds slower than the category average and well behind the Brother MFC-J470DW. However, competitors such as the Epson Workforce WF-2540 were a hair slower.
In our five-page mixed text and graphics test, the Canon Pixma MG5620 finished in 5:10, only 17 seconds behind the category average. The Brother MFC-J470DW (3:28) was nearly 2 minutes quicker, but the HP OfficeJet, Epson Workforce WF-2540 and Epson XP-410 were all slower.
It took the MG5620 just 1:53 to output a full-page landscape photo, more than twice as fast as the category average and the Brother MFC-J470DW and orders of magnitude quicker than the Epson WF2540 and the HP OfficeJet 4630.
Copy and Scan Speed
In our tests, the Pixma MG5620 delivered quick black-and-white scan and copy times paired with solid color speed. The all-in-one copied a black-and-white page at the Normal setting in 7 seconds, a third the speed of the category average and faster than all its competitors by at least 6 seconds.
When we ran our color copy test, the Canon Pixma MG5620 finished in 1:09, about on a par with the category average (1:18), but both the Epson XP-410 (39 seconds) and the HP OfficeJet (42 seconds) were noticeably quicker.
Canon's all-in-one finished our black-and-white scanning test in 22 seconds, 18 seconds quicker than the category average and faster than every other printer we tested, save Canon's $150 Pixma MG7520.
It took the Pixma MG5620 a reasonable 57 seconds to complete our color- scanning test, 4 seconds slower than the category average and 17 seconds behind the Brother MFC-J470. However, other competitors, such as the HP OfficeJet 4630 and the Epson WF2540, were significantly slower.
Not only did the Pixma 5620 deliver the fastest photographic prints we've seen in the sub-$100 price, but also the best. The addition of the photo-black cartridge -- something you won't find on similarly priced competitors -- makes a huge difference.
When we printed a landscape photo of a flower stand in front of a farm, the detail in the shadows of the fence railing was excellent, and the blades of glass in the field behind it had a lot of detail and clearly defined edges. The flowers in the roadside stand were vibrant, and details were clearly visible on the flower petals. The subtle green colors of the stand weren't washed out, nor was the blue sky in the background and its wispy clouds.
In a portrait of a child on a bike we printed, there was plenty of detail in the boy's eyes, the straps of his helmet and the individual teeth that make up the rim of the helmet. There was only minimal color shifting, as is evident on the text of the words on the seat of the trailer and in the railings of the building in the background. The skin tones were much more accurate than on other sub-$100 printers and the photos much more pleasing to look at. The same photo looked washed out and blurry by comparison when printed with the Brother MFC-J470DW and sharp but dull-colored on the Epson XP-410.
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Ink Cost and Yield
Like its more-expensive sibling, the Pixma MG7520, the Canon Pixma MG5620 prints at a really low cost per page. Canon rates the standard black cartridge for 1,700 prints, a rate of just eight-tenths of a cent when you calculate based on a $15 street price. The color cartridges are rated for 350 pages and cost $37 in a four-pack, a rate of 11 cents per page.
A high-capacity black cartridge costs $23 and is rated for 5,500 prints, a rate of just four-tenths of a penny per page. A pack with high-capacity versions of all four colors and black pigment costs $81 and promises 700 color pages, which calculates to a rate of 8 cents per photo when the cost of the black cartridge is removed.
The Canon Pixma MG5620 is the best photo printer you can buy for under $100 and one of the speediest all-in-ones at any price. Whether you're printing, copying or scanning, the Pixma provides strong performance and attractive output at an even more attractive cost per page. If you're willing to spend $70 more and want more features, consider the Pixma MG7520, which has a touch screen and better output, or the Epson Premium Expression XP-820, which has fax capability and an SD card slot. However, if you want the best combination of all-in-one price and performance, look no further than the Canon Pixma MG5620.