The Canon ImageClass MF8350Cdn colour laser multifunction printer offers a tempting purchase price and some good features. Like most low-cost machines we've tested, however, it has trade-offs--including uneven photo quality.
Paper handling is a strong suit. Automatic duplexing comes standard; even the higher-ranked (and cheaper) Brother MFC-9450CDN lacks that feature. The automatic document feeder (ADF) and multipurpose tray (MPT) both take up to 50 sheets, and the main tray takes up to 250. A second 250-sheet tray costs $259. Legal paper causes the main tray to jut out the front; Canon provides a partial dust cover. The 125-sheet output tray lurks, cavelike and dark, below the scanning unit.
The machine's control panel could be better designed. The primary function buttons, such as Copy, Fax, and Scan, are easy to locate above the five-line monochrome LCD. The secondary buttons below are all labelled, but they look similar--and there are a lot of them. More grouping and colour-coding would make things easier to find.
Speed and output quality varied widely in our tests. Printing plain text, the ImageCLASS MF8350Cdn managed a middling rate of 11 pages per minute (ppm), but the quality was stellar. Printing photos or handling copies and scans was faster; the results, however, could be disappointing. Skin tones on colour images looked pale and jaundiced; colour depth and detail were lacking as well. Scanned photos looked dark and muddy, and scanned text appeared fuzzy.
Toner prices are a little high. At the time of this review, a 3400-page replacement black-ink cartridge cost $189, or a pricey 5.5c per page. The 2900-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $169 each, or a midrange 5.8 cents per color, per page. A page with all four colours would cost 22.9 cents; an expensive ask even for a mid-range colour laser printer. The unit ships with starter-size supplies (1200-page black and 1400-page colour cartridges). Cartridges nestle into a tray that slides out from the printer's innards. They're not keyed, but an error message arises if you mislocate one of them.
We liked the supporting documentation. On-screen menu selections include animated instructions for many tasks. A printed Starter Guide and Basic Operations Guide cover most of what you need. The full, HTML-based guide--viewable from the included CD or downloadable from Canon's Web site--is thorough and well organized.
The Canon ImageCLASS MF8350Cdn colour laser multifunction has better paper handling and expandability than many similarly priced machines. Even with its various shortcomings, it's still a worthy choice for a small office with moderate print volume and basic graphics needs.
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