Design and Build
Both elegant and compact (45 x 37 x 15 cm and 6 kg), the MG5550 will look good pretty much anywhere you put it with its matte surface, neutral style and curved edges. The display hasn't changed since the previous model (6.2 cm and still non-tilting), nor have the buttons surrounding it. The Black, Color, Stop and Home buttons are fairly straight-forward, although the onscreen interface isn't close to as easy to understand as it could be. Canon says it's made improvements since the Pixma MG5250, but it's still not quite as intuitive as HP's Photosmarts.
Since the display is not a touchscreen, you navigate through the menu using the arrow buttons to the right of the screen and then select the action you want using the three buttons below the screen. Not everyone prefers a touchscreen, but we feel it just makes life easier (see the MG7150 and MG6350). It's high time Canon extends the touchscreen to the rest of the range.
Oldschool 6.2 cm display surrounded by buttons
The basic functions are all the same as the last generation: print, copy and scan with double-sided printing in each. Once connected via Wi-Fi, the MG5550 will print documents and photos wirelessly from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, the system for printing directly (without going through the free Pixma Printing Solutions app for Android and iOS) has very few options: just the number of copies and duplex. Pixma Printing Solutions is optimised for iPhone 5 and is compatible with iOS 5.1 and up. The app keeps gaining features with every update: paper size, paper type, borders, resizing, colour options, image correction.
Beyond the wireless mobility options, all of the MG5550's other functions are identical to the MG5450, with one exception: the MG5550 doesn't read memory cards anymore, having been replaced, apparently, by cloud printing. The ink cartridges (black, pigmented black, cyan, magenta and yellow) go in through the front of the machine and are easy to replace.
Paper trayThe thin, lightweight paper tray holds just 100 sheets of A4. That's well below the standard 250-sheet capacities you typically see on competing printers, but for home use that could be all one needs. Again, this system isn't as practical as the Photosmart 6525's, whose tray has a special compartment for photo paper.
Canon has never been known for lightning-fast print speeds, due primarily to the fact that its ink takes a long time to dry, especially in mono, which drags down the overall speed. If it weren't for the MG5550's first-page-out times (see inset below), which count in our print speed rating, it would have gotten three stars in this section.
Canon is advertising 8.7 pages per minute (ppm) in colour and 12.2 ppm in mono, but that's not at all what we measured: 11 ppm in colour and 6 ppm in black and white, the same as the Pixma MG5450 and MG7150. As print speeds go, HP has a much better track record in this price range. The Photosmart 6525, for example, prints 13 ppm in colour and 19 ppm in mono, and the Officejet 6600 prints 15 ppm in colour and mono.
As always, the MG5550 is much slower when printing double-sided documents: 4 ppm in B&W.
Engine speed: 35 ppm
In photo mode, the MG5550 is faster than most printers, including the HPs mentioned above. Canon says the MG5550 prints 10 x 15 cm photographs in 20 seconds, and we measured it at 23 seconds. Less than a minute for A4 photographs, that's fast.
The print quality hasn't changed since the previous generation. It's above average for documents, surpassing the likes of HP, Lexmark and Brother, but the photo print quality is a notch or two behind Epson's.
The test image below (which we printed and enlarged three times to bring out the detail), isn't as precise as it would be with a laser printer. That said, for an inkjet it's pretty good: the colours are accurate and the writing in the yellow legend looks clean and legible, even though it does bleed a little.
Canon is several steps ahead of HP when it comes to photo print quality. Both colour and B&W photographs come out looking as though they were printed in a professional photo lab. Black looks deeper, although purists may find fault with Canon's "flashy colours" policy in which it purposely tweeks the colours to make the look more "vivid" (or over-exaggerated, depending on preference).
Scanner & Copier
The 1,200 x 2,400 dpi scanner is made for pictures and documents. We measured a speed of 7 seconds per document in 300 dpi. Not only is this fast, but the quality is also great. If you've configured your e-mail account settings correctly, then you can scan a document and have it sent automatically as a JPEG to any e-mail recipient.
Power Use and Noise
The Pixma MG5550 is quiet and doesn't require loads of power to run on: it consumes just 20 W while printing and 2 W on standby. The eco mode allows users to decide how long the printer waits before automatically going to sleep.
Cost Per Page: 8.4p
The ink cartridges that come with the MG5550 are standard size (not XL) and only half full. Fortunately, Canon sells XL cartridges, which are more expensive than ordinary cartridges but last longer, making for the least expensive option in the long run. They have helped Canon considerably reduce its costs—though not enough to match HP's Photosmart series' extra-low costs per page.