Canon Maxify MB5420 review

How to be a small business hero, step 1: Buy this printer

Run a small office? Canon’s Maxify MB5420 is the workhorse inkjet printer for you.
Run a small office? Canon’s Maxify MB5420 is the workhorse inkjet printer for you.
Run a small office? Canon’s Maxify MB5420 is the workhorse inkjet printer for you.

Highs

  • Large, easy-to-use color touch screen
  • One-pass duplex printing and ADF scanning
  • Fast, quality prints
  • Excellent paper handling and capacity
  • Ink cartridges have superior yield

Lows

  • Copying could be faster

Canon’s Maxify-series of inkjet printers is designed primarily for small businesses and home offices — and for those environments, the new Maxify MB5420 is a terrific multifunction workhorse. It’s versatile, loaded with features, and offers a high print yield.

While the $330 price tag puts this printer at the top of the consumer multifunction/all-in-one segment, we think the same features that make the Maxify MB5420 attractive to its target audience also make it a compelling buy for home users, provided they print a lot and have use for the various features offered. Sure, it’s overkill for some, but highly useful for others. And frankly, it’s a steal for any small business.

What’s included

The printer comes with a power cord, telephone cord (for the fax function), setup posters, and an installation disc. In addition, a set of starter ink cartridges completes the contents.

Design and features

The MB5420 looks all business with its cubic form-factor and brushed black finish, measuring 18.5 × 15 × 13.5 inches and weighing approximately 30 pounds. It doesn’t resemble a consumer device, but depending on your taste, it looks either sleek or dull (at least Canon went with a sexier color than beige).

Because the MB5420 is designed for heavy-duty printing, there is plenty of storage capacity for paper. An automatic document feeder, with support for single-pass duplexing, has a capacity for 30 sheets. Two paper drawers in the front-bottom hold 250 sheets each, giving the MB5420 the capacity to hold a full ream of paper. Or, you can keep different types of paper in the separate drawers, such as plain paper in one and letterhead, photo paper, or heavy stock in the other.

The control panel has a 3.5-inch color touchscreen surrounded by six buttons (power, home, back, start color, start black, and stop). When powered on, the touchscreen shows a default panel of icons for copy, fax, and scan. If you know how to use a smartphone, then you shouldn’t have a problem navigating the menus; swiping left or right takes you to other functions and settings. Compared to the early-generation printer touchscreens you’re probably used to, the smooth navigation of the MB5420’s is a welcome improvement.

The printer has excellent connectivity options, with Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. It does not have Near-Field Communication (NFC), a feature that’s becoming increasingly common (whether it’s popular among users, remains to be seen).

The MB5420 can join a network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. When connected to the Internet, the machine can scan to or download and print from various cloud-based services, such as OneDrive and Dropbox. In order to take advantage of this feature, you need to register the MFP with Canon’s IJ Cloud Server. In addition, remote printing from mobile devices is available using Apple AirPrint, Canon PRINT, Google Cloud Print, Microsoft Mobile Print, Mopria Device Printing, and Wi-Fi Direct. The MB5420 can also function as an access point, so that other wireless devices can connect to the network through it.

Ink cartridges have a larger capacity than those in home printers do, and prices are reasonable.

Smaller icons along the bottom of the LCD show connectivity status, ink levels, and approximate paper tray status. We wouldn’t place too much faith in the latter, as the display showed both trays full when in fact they were both empty. On the plus side, the upper-part of the LCD has an icon labeled “Record of use,” which prints a report of the number pages printed, scanned, copied, and faxed. This is a useful feature for an office with multiple users.

One advantage of the MB5420 being oriented towards business use is that the ink cartridges have a larger capacity than many of those for more consumer targeted MFPs or printers. The standard capacity PGI-2200 ink cartridges are priced at about $30 for black and $25 for color, with expected black page yields of 1,000 pages and color yields of up to 800 pages. Also available are XL higher-capacity cartridges with black yields of about 2,500 pages and up to 1,500 pages for the color cartridges. The XL cartridges cost about $35 for black; the color cartridges run about $28. For this type of machine, we think pricing for replacement ink is reasonable.

Performance and use

We encountered no problems when setting up the MB5420. After powering on the unit and inserting the ink cartridges, the printer performs a priming procedure that takes about five minutes. If you choose to install the software off the included disc, you’ll get PosterArtist Lite, My Printer (a utility for troubleshooting and diagnosing printer errors, and changing settings such as those for paper type), a network tool that lets you change the printer’s settings from your PC, and a Speed Dial utility for the fax. You can also install the drivers for printing and scanning, which are available for download via Canon’s website as well.

We connected the MFP using both wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi setup, surprisingly, was quick and painless, which isn’t something we say often. Once we dropped the MB5420 into our office network, every user using Google Chrome received an automatic notice that a new printer is available. With a MacBook Air, we could print to it wirelessly using AirPrint, without needing to install drivers.

Canon rates the MB5420 at up to 24 pages-per-minute (ppm) in monochrome and 15.5 ppm in color. For documents, we achieved a monochrome page speed of 22.2 ppm using an all-text Word document, and 10ppm with a mostly color Excel document. The MB5420 is not marketed as a photo printer, but we found color prints to be excellent, with accuracy and fine detail, especially on glossy photo paper (the speed may be much slower when printing full-page images). On plain paper, colors were somewhat washed out, which is to be expected due to wicking occurring below the surface of the paper.

Canon Maxify MB5420 review
Les Shu/Digital Trends
Les Shu/Digital Trends

Copying was considerably slower than printing, but still suitable for smaller copy runs. The MB5420’s scanner is terrific, as our scanned documents exhibited accurate colors and fine detail. If you’re looking to do a large copy job, however, you’re better off using a dedicated copier or a copy shop.

Warranty

Canon includes a one-year limited warranty with InstantExchange program (a U.S.-only service that lets you swap for a refurbished model), and one-year toll-free telephone support.

Our take

If you live in a household or have a small office that doesn’t print a lot, you’ll be better served by an all-in-one with a price tag of under $200 or even $150. But if you have a high monthly print cycle, particularly in an office with several employees, you’ll love the MB5420.

Is there a better alternative?

For the home, the MB5420 is expensive. There are similar offerings from other vendors including Brother, Hewlett Packard, and Epson. For example, the Epson Workforce Pro WF-5620 has similar specs and costs less at about $250. There are also less expensive machines from Canon, in the Pixma series, especially if you can do without the fax mode.

The MB5420 targets small business owners, however, and if that’s you, it could end up paying for itself. The capabilities, high duty cycle, fast print speeds, and large paper and ink capacities are ideal features for an office. Compared with other workhorse inkjet printers, the MB5420 is a more attractive proposition for this environment. The aforementioned Epson WF-5620, for example, costs an extra $200 if you want a second paper tray. In that view, the MB5420 is a good buy.

How long will it last?

The MB5420 has a monthly print duty cycle of 2,000 pages, based on an environment of 10 users or fewer. As a business machine, it’s designed to handle more abuse than a home printer. Expect three-to-five years of continuous use at 1,000 to 1,600 pages per month.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you need a four-function, high-quality workhorse office printer that has a high monthly print cycle and supports multiple paper inputs and various connectivity modes. Your officemates will appreciate the speed, and your accountant will commend you on the cost.

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