Canon i-Sensys MF4690PL

If you're looking for fast scan to print copying from your workgroup laser, this Canon is worth considering.

The machine is a capable fax, as well as having print, copy and scan functions. Canon claims it can transmit a page in three seconds and it's based around a Super G3 fax modem, so can produce up to 256 greyscales. The MF4690PL also contains a 512-page fax memory, so should be able to cope with plenty of incoming faxes, even if the paper tray's empty.

Canon claims a top speed of 20ppm for this machine, but our five-page text and text and graphics tests produce speeds of 11.1ppm and 11.5ppm, barely half the speed. When we tried the 20-page document, we saw 15.4ppm, but you'd have to be printing a long document to reach 20ppm. The printer has automatic duplex, so we ran the 20-page document double-sided, too, producing 10 pages in 122 seconds, equivalent to 9.8ppm.

Copies of our text and graphics page took 13 seconds from the ADF and eight seconds from the flatbed glass. Both these times are excellent, making this machine a great little digital copier, from the speed point of view.

The quality of the pages the device produces is generally good, though there is some slight spatter around the serifs of text characters. Greyscale graphics are only fair, with some tints having a blotchy look to them and mid-greys showing a noticeable crosshatching. While in normal use, you probably wouldn't notice these attributes, there are laser printers and multifunctions at a similar price, which don't exhibit them.

A photocopy of our text and graphics page showed some deterioration in quality of greyscale reproduction, so that some lighter tints were virtually lost. Our test photo print, using the printer's dedicated photo setting, came out well, with good levels of detail and, curiously, less of the blotchiness than we noticed in the business graphics print.

The only consumable Canon quotes is a drum and toner cartridge which it refers to as a fax cartridge. This is a small unit, which slides deep into the interior of the printer section of the machine once you've hinged the scanner section up and opened a cover. The cartridge is rated as 2,000 pages, giving a cost per page from the cheapest source we could find (30 from www.printerinks.com) of 1.5p. This puts the i-Sensys MF4690PL in a reasonable position against its main competitors.

Verdict

This is a competent multifunction printer, particularly strong on print and fax, but not so good on copying, if that involves greyscale material. Running costs are reasonable and with only a single consumable maintenance costs should stay low. The slightly odd, front design can make feeding special media awkward.

600dpi, 20ppm A4 multifunction printer 250-sheet paper tray plus 10-sheet multi-purpose 35-sheet ADF for colour scans and mono copies Automatic duplex built-in USB 2 and Ethernet Presto! PageManager, OmniPage SE plus drivers

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