Review: Canon MG2160

This simple, entry-level inkjet is a possible low-cost option for infrequent printing, but not advisable for photos or large print jobs.

NameMultifunction printer: Canon MG2160
At a glance:Extremely low upfront cost,Limited print quality and low speed,Fast colour scans at good quality
Summary:A possible low-cost option for infrequent printing, but not advisable for photos or large print jobs.

Canon's MG2160 is a simple, rounded-edged block in matte black plastic that won’t pick up fingerprints, but it’s neither particularly impressive nor aesthetically pleasing.

I found the unit slightly unwieldy to unpack, but more worrying was the intimidating interface. There’s no screen - just a seven-segment LED to display the number of copies - and the buttons and lights all seem a little much. Upon plugging in the printer and turning it on, I couldn’t work out what to do next. So, I inserted the setup CD.

The PC setup process takes around 5-10 minutes, and installs several different programs as well as an annoying ‘desktop accessory’. During setup, there were no instructions for ink cartridge installation, which might prove difficult for those who aren’t veterans of printer setup.

Printing a head-alignment page, as I like to do before testing print quality, was an obscure and difficult experience. Connectivity is via USB only – there’s no Wi-Fi, which is almost a positive given my difficulties.

Once up and running, the MG2160 showed a tendency to pull multiple sheets of blank paper at once. There’s a hard-to-locate setting to prevent this from happening, but it shouldn’t happen at all.

Advertised speeds at normal quality are 8.4ppm (pages per minute) monochrome, and 4.8ppm colour. In our standard tests, the MG2160 achieved a fair 7.9ppm on monochrome lineart and text, 5.0ppm on monochrome graphics and text, but just 2.2ppm colour graphics and text, and 6:15 per A4 photograph. There’s quite a pronounced delay between pages; the printer waits for the previous page to dry. The drying time can be adjusted, but even at minimum, print speed was still slow.

Lineart and graphics are sharp and image-noise is low, but colours were a little over-exposed and photographs slightly blurred. Some text was over-inked and notably blurry, but in general, text quality is good.

With standard ink cartridges (a full set is $68), vendor-supplied details put print costs at 18 cents per black page and 38 cents per colour page. High yield ink cartridges ($110 per set) lower that to 12 cents per black page and 27 cents per colour page. Finally, an even further extended black cartridge for heavy monochrome printing will lower that again to just 10 cents per page for black.

The MG2160’s flatbed scanner features an optical resolution of 1200 x 2400dpi, but with the latest Canon drivers under Windows 7, I was only able to scan up to 600dpi. At the time of writing, I hadn’t been able to identify or work around the issue.

Scanning text documents in black-and-white at 300dpi came in at a slow 19 seconds per page, while 600dpi colour scans were fast at just 52 seconds per page (one of the best speeds in our roundup).

Scans are a little soft with lots of fine noise (only visible at high magnification), but show good colour accuracy.

It may have an extremely low upfront cost of just $79, but average print quality and reasonable scanner performance make Canon’s MG2160 an entry-level colour printer/scanner for the truly cash-strapped who only intend to print occasionally.

An extra $30 will net you the Canon MG3160, which is essentially the same printer with the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity and a marginally higher print speed.

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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