Saturday, October 20, 2007

Review: Canon imageCLASS MF5770 Multifunction Printer/Scanner/Fax

I'll start with an excerpt from writeup I recently prepared to sell my MF5730, which I have recently replaced with an MF5770. I have used the MF5770 for only a week or so. It is virtually identical to the 5730 (and, I assume, to others in the MF5700 series); the main difference is that the 5770 has a fax capability.

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Re: the Canon imageCLASS® MF5730 Laser Multifunction Printer - Copier - Scanner. The CNET editor says, “Any small office shopping for a no-nonsense laser multifunction should count this model among its top picks.” (See their video on it.) The Consumer Guide expert review gives it 3 out of 5 (average), but they also gave it a Best Buy award, and the reviewer’s only complaints were that it is only for Windows computers and it doesn’t have a fax feature. I have used this model primarily for scanning. I have used a half-dozen scanners over the past ten years. This one probably has the most reliable paper handling of any of them. Scan quality depends on your settings and so forth; you do have the option of making very good scans. Overall, this has been a reliable and good-quality performer.
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Since writing that note, I have come up with a number of things I would add to it, as follows: 1. There is no on-off switch on either model. According to Canon, "The scan lamp for the MF5730 [and also the MF5770] will stay on constantly, even in the Energy Saver mode. This is normal operation. The reason for this is to reduce the warm up period on the first copy or scan after coming out of Energy Saver mode. The scanner has been designed to operate in this manner and should not adversely affect the life of the lamp." This seems like a design flaw to me. It uses electricity unnecessarily. Also, as I have discovered, when you turn out the lights and leave, your scanner may be the brightest light in the room -- which means that, if there is a moth in the room, you will find pieces of it sticking to your scans and smeared across your scanning lamp when you come in the next day and insert some papers for scanning. Or, if you happen to be using the scanner in your home office, you will now have a nightlight which may brighten your room more than you would have preferred. 2. Speaking of design flaws, they should have hired a designer for the shape of the machine. It is big. They have done a good job of driving the size upwards in a tapered way that reduces the footprint. But it is still big. Also, the "natural bridge" design, in which the printer shoots paper out from the machine's midsection, is one that had great potential. Somehow, though, it turned out ugly. While we're on the subject of design, I would also suggest changing the paper tray concept. It sticks out the back, at the bottom. It seems like it is just begging to get broken, the first time someone puts it down on an uneven surface. The paper tray, like a few other parts, unfortunately departs from the machine's overall solid feel: it feels flimsy and cheap. So does the alternate sheet feeder, which easily loses its grip on pages, resulting in a real or imaginary paper jam. Meanwhile, the printer's output paper tray holds just a few printed sheets, before pages start spilling out. Something similar happens with the scanner's output tray, if one outcoming sheet happens to snag one that's already in the tray. Also, for some reason the scanner's paper feeder does not self-clear when you restart the machine; there will be times when you will have to tug pages out manually (and it's not easy). 3. They neglected some important details. I was dismayed at the poor quality of their documentation on scanning. I wished they had provide calibration marks along the sides of the platen, so I could tell how big your documents were and could adjust my settings accordingly. I was also very disappointed that there is no possibility of scanning above 300 DPI. This is a real step backwards; I think every scanner I have used in the past ten years has been superior in that regard. On the positive side, they include a starter cartridge that prints 2500 copies. Printing quality is good; so is scanning quality, though I have to use weird settings (Brightness -20, Contrast +13) to achieve it. You don't get that sharp, high-pitched whistle, from this scanner, that you will get from some others. Tech support is very responsive and, in my limited experience, is adequately knowledgable, at least if you reach them over the phone. In sum, as you can tell, I appreciate the MF5700 series and I expect to be using my new MF5770 for years to come.



After using this machine for a little less than 3 years it has started getting paper jams all the time. I would geuss I've printed 15.000-20.000 pages up until now. I was hoping that it would last longer. I have had a good run though, the toners are cheap, it has worked well, but I'm still pissed of at the quality of the paper feeder. 3 years...