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Marine Goy
Morgane Alzieu
Published on July 1, 2010
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  • Resolution 9600 x 2400 dpi
  • Mono/colour speeds 9.4 ppm / 6.1 ppm
  • Ink droplet size 1 pl
  • Cartridges required 5
  • Number of base colours 4
  • Scanner yes
A high-end all-in-one multifunction that prints, scans, copies and faxes. The size of the ink drops (1 picolitre) and high print resolution (9,600 x 2,400 dpi) make it ideal for both pro use and photo enthusiasts.


With an automatic 35 page double-sided loader, it is also wi-fi-ethernet compatible and can share content via a local network. The one drawback: the colour screen (6.2 cm) isn't a touch.

There are 5 separate cartridges: a pigment black for office docs as well as a black for photos and the usual cyan, magenta and yellow. Using separate cartridges rather than the monoblocks used in budget models represents an economy of between 20 and 35%.

The front is very much like that on the Pixma MX350. Same principle in terms of controls and navigation, with even more buttons on this model. What we're trying to say is, we'd like to see all these buttons replaced with a touch screen.

Speeds: average

The speeds are twice what you get on the latest Brother printers (365CN). Compared to the rest of the Canon range, they're at the lower end and will be perfect for home use. For pro use, the same recommendations as for the Canon Pixma MX350; you need to watch out for possible queueing problems. In the same price range, the MP640 offers a faster service - if you don't need the fax, go for this one. As is often the case, double-sided speeds are much slower, up to three times as slow as standard mode here.

Energy consumption and noise levels;

The printer uses 4 watts on standby and 21 watts when printing. This is high for an ink jet and high compared to the latest models in the range. Remember that most models are under 1 W on standby and around 15 W when printing. Nevertheless, to put things into context, 21 watts is still less than what a low-energy light bulb consumes.

It does better when it comes to noise levels, with 43.9 dB which is quiet (the MP640 was measured at 50 dB).

Quality: consistently excellent

As we said in the hardware section, the MX870 has not 4 but 5 separate cartridges. It uses two black cartridges, opting for one or the other depending on usage: a pigment black for office doc usage (the resin in the pigment better protects the ink from exterior interference), and a photo black for your photo prints (finer differences).

The office document results are very nice, something we'd like to see more of: clear and precise. Be careful however not to put damp fingers on the text as this may blur it.


Still a 5 star machine for photos, both black and white and colour. The colours are accurate and the size of drops is invisible. Compare the results with the original photo, the X 3 leaves an impression of general lack of sharpness in the face-off, which, however, remains invisible to the naked eye. All the same, though very good and still a 5 star, the MX870 remains a notch down on the Epson Stylus PX810FW.

Scanner and copier: fast

The scanner is very fast: 8 seconds for a preview, only 4 for a 75 dpi scan, and 10 for 300 dpi.

The native definition of the scanner (2400 dpi) is a good sign and, indeed, in spite of the colour difference of 6.6%, results are convincing. The colours are faithful in spite of a slight lightening of skin tones but the detail is well rendered without any particular accentuation. There is however some smoothening of traits, which means a small loss of detail. However this is something that almost all the competition suffers from.

As for the copies, the black and whites take 15 seconds and the colours 22.
Putting figures on the colour differences, for the scanner you get the following:

Cost per page

The cost per page on the MX870 amounts to 7.6 p. That's a pretty good score and it's certainly below average - about one third lower than average.

ISO lifespan test for text documents

Cartridge Price(July 10) ISO Lifespan
Cost per page
PGI-520BK (black) £7.89
324 2.4 p
CLI-521C (cyan) £8.05  535
1.5 p
CLI-521M (magenta) £9.10  510 1.8 p
CLI-521Y (yellow) £7.99 530
1.6 p
 PGI-521BK (black)  £7.89  3425 0.2 p

Up and running
20 seconds from standby to printing the first page is pretty fast. First page in 11 seconds is very fast. 9 seconds once the printer is on is almost half the time of the most recent models we've tested.


  • Very low running costs: 7.6 p per page
  • Good print quality both docs and photo
  • Good scanner, rapid copies
  • Wi-Fi, fax, network
  • Double-sided


  • No touch screen
  • Twice as slow as a laser
  • Double sided speeds are 3 times as slow
  • Stand-by energy consumption: 4 W


This printer is for those who were looking for a very good MP640 with fax. It gives good quality prints at low running costs. With higher speeds and lower energy consumption, it would have been perfect.
4 Canon Pixma MX870 DigitalVersus 2010-07-01 00:00:00
Compare: Canon Pixma MX870 to its competitors
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