Canon Maxify MB5320 review

Canon's Maxify workhorse printer proves it's serious about business.

The Maxify MB5320 clearly demonstrates Canon’s eagerness in pursuing the SOHO market, and it’s a winner.
The Maxify MB5320 clearly demonstrates Canon’s eagerness in pursuing the SOHO market, and it’s a winner.
The Maxify MB5320 clearly demonstrates Canon’s eagerness in pursuing the SOHO market, and it’s a winner.

Highs

  • Large color touchscreen
  • Single-pass duplex scanning
  • Fast performance
  • Excellent prints

Lows

  • Expensive

Canon has a variety of printers that meet the needs of different users – from the home consumer to graphic designers and office workers. But what sector the company feels it hasn’t addressed well enough are small office/home office (SOHO) and small business (SMB) users. The company has a line of Pixma models designed for this market, but it decided what it really needs is a high-performance workhorse inkjet machine that offers large paper capacities, ink yields, and cloud connectivity. Enter the new Maxify series.

At $400, Maxify’s MB5320 multifunction printer (MFP) – the flagship model – is priced at the upper-end of the SOHO/SMB market, and is definitely targeted at a business user. Still, those same features that make it attractive for a business user also make it just as attractive for a home user that does a lot of heavy-duty printing and copying. If you operate a business out of a home, the MB5320 can serve double-duty for work and play – and that premium price could pay off in the end.

Features and design

Since the Maxify is a brand-new lineup of inkjet printers, Canon gave it a fresh look that’s more fitting with small office environments. The MB5320 is a sleek but big black cube with rounded top edges, measuring 18.3 x 18.1 inches and standing 13.9 inches high. It weighs in at less than 29 pounds; it’s not so overly heavy that you can’t pick up or put on a desk, but it’s by no means compact.

The MB5320’s fold-out ADF has a capacity for 30 sheets, and provides one-pass duplexing, which means it can scan both sides of a document simultaneously – no need to manually flip the page. One-pass duplexing not only speeds up the scanning process (especially if you have lots of double-sided pages to scan), but also minimizes occurrences of feed jams. The scanner has an optical resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi, which is a lower than many less-expensive all-in-ones we’ve tested; for business users, that resolution is sufficient for faxing, copying, or even scanning to optical character recognition (OCR) software. However, higher resolutions are required if you need to enlarge the scanned document while keeping the quality fine.

The control panel has a large 3-inch color touchscreen alongside typical MFP buttons. The majority of controls are handled via the display. On the Home screen you’ll find commands for Copy, Scan, Fax, and Cloud. Realizing that today’s users are increasingly relying on the cloud as a delivery method for digital documents, Cloud functionality plays a big role in this printer.

To use the Cloud capabilities, the device must be connected (wired or wireless) to the Internet via a network. This is easily accomplished by registering the device with Canon’s IJ Cloud server first, and you can then print from a smartphone or tablet using the Maxify Printing Solutions (MPS) for iOS or Android. MPS lets you print directly from Cloud services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Twitter. You can print wirelessly from mobile devices with Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, or Wi-Fi Direct print. (MPS is similar to the Pixma Printing Solutions, which you can read more about here.)

One feature you won’t find in consumer AIOs is Records of Use. This provides the number of pages printed, faxed, copies, and scanned. In an office setting, this feature allows the printer or IT administrator to analyze usage; it also lets company bean counters to charge printing costs back to the department. It’s not an important feature for families (unless you need to monitor your kids’ excessive printing activities) or a one- or two-person home business, but it’s a sought-out feature for larger companies.

For connectivity, the MB5320 provides has a standard RJ-11 telephone jack for fax, Ethernet, USB, and Wi-Fi. There’s a secondary USB port located in the front, but it’s used for printing from or scanning to a flash drive. Because it isn’t a home printer, the MB5320 does not have a memory card reader.

Directly below the output tray are two paper trays. Each input tray can hold 250 sheets of paper, and the top tray can also be used with 4 x 6 inch photo paper. These trays are unusual in that they are “collapsible” when empty or when they are used for small paper, and fit flush inside the MFP.

Canon Maxify printer top angle

Since the MB5320 isn’t a photo printer, it uses basic four-color (CMYK) ink tank – available in standard (PGI-2200) and high-capacity (PGI-2200XL) cartridges. For Maxify, Canon created a new ink system, Dual Resistant High Density. According to the company, even the standard tanks have larger yields than what you might find with a Pixma model, and the inks are designed to produce graphs with vivid colors and sharp, optical density and crisp text. The standard cartridges cost $30 for black and $25 for each color (cyan, magenta, and yellow); yield estimates are 1,000 pages for black and between 600 and 815 pages for the color inks. The high-capacity cartridges are rated at an estimated 2,500 pages for black, and between 1,295 and 1,755 pages for the colors; the XL black cartridge costs about $35, while the color cartridges run about $28.

What’s in the box

The MB5320 comes with a set of starter ink cartridges, power and telephone cords, a setup poster, and CD containing software and drivers.

Warranty

Canon offers a one-year limited warranty with InstantExchange (where Canon will replace the entire machine if it’s defective, while under warranty), plus a year of toll-free telephone support.

Setup and performance

Setting up the MB5320 is routine: After inserting the ink cartridges, the printer primes the printhead and performs an automatic head alignment, which takes about 10 minutes. You can opt to install the software and drivers from the included CD, which includes the Canon Quick Toolbox, IJ Scan Utility OCR, Easy WebPrint EX, and a Speed Dial Utility for the fax. The Quick Toolbox provides a simple way to access the features of the MFP and launch the other utilities. Easy WebPrint EX lets you clip pieces of Web pages and paste them together into a single, printable document – saving paper by not printing extraneous portions of the pages. For the computer savvy, you can bypass the software altogether and just install the drivers you need.

For testing purposes, we used a direct USB connection, but setting the MB5320 for Wi-Fi is a simple procedure through the LCD’s onscreen instructions. Canon rates the MB5320 at 22 pages per minute in black and 15 ppm in color. With our four-page Word test document, which is mostly black text with a small color logo on each page, we were able to achieve almost exactly the 22 ppm Canon claims.

The MB5320 is strong enough to take on daily printing abuse from both office users and kids.

Surprisingly, the speed didn’t seem to drop off when we tested copying. Most inkjet-based MFPs slow down noticeably when used for copying, but the MB5320 is actually quite useable for this function. We tested photo scanning using the Import function of Picasa 3.0, and scans were fast, with excellent detail and good color accuracy.

Although it can output color, Canon doesn’t promote the MB5320 as a photo printer. But our test images printed on Canon’s Photo Paper Glossy II and Matte were correctly saturated with very accurate color reproduction. We were even presently surprised with the output on Hammermill Premium Inkjet and Laser Paper, which costs about $12 a ream. Most of the time when we test printers on this paper, color saturation suffers because of wicking (the ink is drawn down into the paper). On the Hammermill paper, which is essentially a premium grade plain paper, colors were nicely saturated and accurate, though we did notice a very slight amount of banding. Nonetheless, if your family is going to use the MB5320 for reports and presentations, they will be very happy with the quality of the output. Just keep in mind that if the output is important, using a high-quality premium paper is always a good idea.

Conclusion

Most home users won’t find the Maxify MB5320’s features compelling enough to justify the premium price. However, if you run a small business or home office out of your house, we can see the MB5320 as a great investment that does double-duty for work and the kids’ homework. For larger businesses, there are attractive features that make it suitable as a workgroup or departmental printer that does heavy printing and copying.

Whether it’s the home or office, the MB5320 is strong enough to take on daily printing, copying, and scanning abuse. It delivers fast performance for an inkjet printer, and the color prints are photo-printer quality – even on regular copy paper. Cartridge yields are high enough that you aren’t visiting the office supply store several times a month. And, it’s backed by Canon’s U.S.-based customer support center – an important service that Canon feels is what makes them unique from the competition. The MB5320 clearly demonstrates Canon’s eagerness in pursuing the SOHO market, and it’s a winner.

Highs

  • Large color touchscreen
  • Single-pass duplex scanning
  • Fast performance
  • Excellent prints

Lows

  • Expensive
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