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Pros and Cons for this Excellent Entry point for Photo Quality in All-In-One Ink Jet Printers
on March 11, 2013
Canon PIXMA MG5420 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier
[12/11/2014 NOTE: I suggest also looking at the Canon PIXMA MG7520 if you are interested in the MG5420]
[12/13/2013 NOTE: I suggest also looking at the Canon PIXMA MG7120 if you are interested in the MG5420]
[12/22/2013 NOTE: I added a section below noting why the MG5420 is superior to the MG5520 in my opinion]
If you don't care about having GRAY or ETHERNET, but want great PHOTO QUALITY in an inexpensive all-in-one style (copier, scanner) ink jet printer, this can be a quality/value sweet spot for you in the Canon PIXMA line giving you a lot of bang for the buck. This is the replacement for MG5320, only available since December 2012.
If this seems right for you, consider looking at the slightly more upscale Canon MG7520 features (made starting Fall 2014) or its predecessor MG7120 (made starting Fall 2013) before committing as the cost difference isn't that much.
- A well regarded consumer magazine considers these MG5000/MG6000/MG8000 series printers the best photo quality for all-in-one (copier, scanner) ink jets. This model is the entry point into this line.
- The new ink tanks for the MG5420 (and the new MG6320 and newer MG7120) now also come in an XL size which can reduce the page cost significantly. The inks themselves in the new tanks are the same formula. This was not available for the predecessor MG5320/MG6220 models.
- The MG5420 (and MG6320/MG7120) has 2x the number of black ink nozzles as their predecessors MG5320/MG6220. This allows more efficient use of black ink and greater dot accuracy.
- It is a bit shorter/squatter than its predecessor MG5320, which for some is a nicer form factor if on a desk, for example. I think they both look fine, but it is clear from reviews that the new look has gone over well.
- Like the newer MG6320/MG7120 (and unlike the last generation MG5320/MG6220), this has the new handy separate 4"x6" and 5"x7" photo paper drawer at the front.
- For copying/scanning the top comes off easily (unlike the previous generation MG5320/MG6220).
- With 10+ years of having a number of their products I have always found Canon to have great customer service, which for U.S. customers appears to be based out of Maryland and Virginia.
- 5-15% faster printing than last generation depending on b&w vs. color, quality, etc.
- Can print directly from CF memory cards unlike the last generation, if that is important to you.
- Wider selection of devices that can print directly to it than the last generation.
- Like its predecessor (MG5320), this has one less color than the next step up MG6320/MG6220, it does NOT HAVE GRAY, which is for improved black and white art and photo results and to better darken colors. I can't tell the difference gray makes with color pages, but some reviewers can.
- Like its predecessor (MG5320), there is NO ETHERNET connection like the next step up MG7120/MG6320/MG6220 has. Ethernet allows a solid, simple shared/network wired connection that stays up even when computers are down. I personally think getting this is worth the relatively small additional expense for a MG7120/MG6320/MG6220 if you have more than one user on the network, but that is just me.
- Does not have the option of coming in white, which the MG7120/MG6320 ones do.
- As of 2014 this is no longer new (end of 2012) and as such one hopes most issues found with it would have been fixed by now. However, if you are buying a used one, this may still be a concern.
- The inks for this model (and the other newer ones, the MG6320/MG7120) are relatively new and different than for the previous generation before that (MG5320/MG6220) and thus can be harder to find in stores, however enough time has passed now as of 2014 it is no where near as tough to find as only a year ago.
- For copying/scanning, the lid telescopes up for books only to the thickness of around a cellphone (like its predecessor the MG5320). On the other hand the top COMES OFF easily now with the MG5420, just like the newer MG6320/MG7120.
- This doesn't come with the MG6320/MG7120's touch screen content-sensitive interface which is getting rave reviews, however, I find this older interface style just as easy.
- No built-in fax, if this is important to you in an all-in-one. Perhaps you want to get a dedicated one of your choosing near a phone line anyways, however if you are looking for a built-in fax the MX922/MX892 printers do. This comes at a cost of not getting the higher end scanning of the MG models, though this may only matter to you if you are scanning negatives, MX922/MX892 scanning meets most other needs including most graphics needs, just as well.
SUGGESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- When doing text, choose the HIGH QUALITY setting (and perhaps set it as the default) in the printer page set-up, it really makes a difference.
- See below consideration to select it not to automatically shut-off to reduce ink wastage.
- Consider choosing to print black & white or grey scale when color isn't necessary, otherwise the printer may choose to layer colors to get black instead. Canon feels the black is better with the color layering though, you decide :).
- If you need something NOW that you will use a lot NOW, and the GRAY and ETHERNET is potentially useful you might consider looking at the older MG6220 since it uses inks that are easy to find at stores and online. The MG6220 is pretty cheap now, too, since it is being replaced.
- If you need something NOW that you will use a lot NOW, and you don't care enough about GRAY or ETHERNET, you might consider looking at the older MG5320 since it uses inks that are easy to find at stores and online. The MG5320 is pretty cheap now, too, since it is being replaced.
- If the color GRAY or ETHERNET connectivity (they come with MG7120/MG6320/MG6220) is potentially useful to you, you might consider looking into the MG7120/MG6320/MG6220, which are otherwise somewhat similar.
- Use Canon paper when you need optimal results with their ink, and test matte vs. glossy. Matte is much less expensive and may meet most of your needs. Let me know in comments if anyone finds a comparable quality and yet significantly less costly photo paper for this printer, I'd like to test it out.
- In case of POWER OUTAGE, it is sometimes necessary to unplug it for A FEW MINUTES and then plug it back in. This allows capacitor discharge.
- The Canon site has lots of easy to find product comparison information for these inkjets, you might consider reviewing it before committing on a model.
- As soon as you can after getting your printer, print samples of full color, b&w, borderless photos, print on a DVD if that's important to you, etc. Determine if you have a lemon before you get too busy with other things so you can exchange for a good one while it is easy to do. These are complicated machines with lots of parts.
Anyone researching the ink jet printers will likely be concerned about ink costs. Here are 5 things you can do to mitigate this with the MG5420:
- Buy the XL versions of the ink, this is supposed to reduce the cost per color page to a very competitive 13-14 cents per page (vs. 16-19 cents).
- As noted above, choose to print black and white or grey scale when that will do just fine to avoid black made from layers of colors. Canon feels the black mixed from colors is better, you be the judge.
- Turn off the automatic shut-off. Standby mode uses 0.9W, so on standby even all year uses around 8kWh/yr., so around $1/yr depending on where you live. This can help lessen the number of the longer cleaning routines after start-up and often at shutdown. It runs the cleaning other times, too, which is good as it keeps things from clogging.
- Avoid printing pages with solid or heavily colored background in color when possible.
- Some fonts use 20-40% less ink than others. According to a leading consumer magazine, Times uses much less than Arial which uses much less than Calibri, for example.
NOTE #1: If there is no printing or cleaning routine at least once a month or so, select it to run a cleaning routine (easy to do) or turn it off and on to force it to once a month or so to keep the nozzles unclogged. If they clog talk to Canon support for what is often an easy solution.
NOTE #2: The MG6220, which is in the same family of products as this MG5420 (though part of an earlier model line up), has a low ink early warning bug. For example, when I take ink from a MG5320 and put it in a MG6220, the low ink warning bars show the ink as vastly lower. This helps exaggerate the appearance of high ink usage. Actual ink usage is high enough that this bug is pretty unwelcome. If it wasn't for a leading consumer magazine's highest photo quality rating for all-in-ones and their estimated page cost that wasn't crazy, and lots of other favorable reviews, I think this bug could have been much worse for MG6220 sales and other models in the family. This might make you feel a little better about ink usage in the model family 5000/6000 after reading the ink comments for the 6220.
NOTE #3: Just an informative, probably not very useful factoid :). This model range of Canon inkjet doesn't do a big cleaning/purging after it prints, you are usually hearing head realignment. However, it does quietly "prime the head" to keep the heat from ink clogging the print head and this uses a little ink (even for B&W). This is much less ink than with the big cleaning/purging routine that is much rarer if you set the printer not to auto shut-off.
INK USAGE CANON DATASHEET:
As it is pretty difficult to find, here below is Canon's published Page Yield per Document numbers (I rounded a little) for MG5420.
I'm not sure how much of the difference between these numbers and users experience is due to the cleaning routine, difference between test and real world usage, etc.
Here at least you can see real world expected usage ratio between standard and XL cartridges and compare to costs to determine the better value.
Mixed Text/Graphics, A4/Letter, Plain Paper, Adobe Reader 10
ISO/IEC24711 Test Method, ISO/IEC24712 Test Pattern:
PGI-250 __ 300 pages
CLI-251 BK 1800
CLI-251 C_ 330
CLI-251 M_ 320
CLI-251 Y_ 340
PGI-250 XL __ 500 pages
CLI-251 XL BK 5500
CLI-251 XL C_ 700
CLI-251 XL M_ 680
CLI-251 XL Y_ 700
Color Photos, 4"x6":
PGI-250 __ 2400 pages
CLI-251 BK 380
CLI-251 C_ 120
CLI-251 M_ 130
CLI-251 Y_ 130
PGI-250 XL __ 5600 pages
CLI-251 XL BK 1130
CLI-251 XL C_ 260
CLI-251 XL M_ 310
CLI-251 XL Y_ 270
Here are some of the more notable differences in MG5420's favor:
- Print Color Resolution: 9600 horizontal x 2400 vertical dpi
- Print Most Granular Dot: 1 picoliter
- Scanner Resolution: 2400 horizontal x 4800 vertical dpi (optical)
- Print 4"x6" Photo speed: 21 seconds
- Copy speed (FCOT): 14 seconds
- Printing on DVD/CD's
- Print Color Resolution: 4800 horizontal x 1200 vertical dpi*
- Print Most Granular Dot: 2 picoliter
- Scanner Resolution: 1200 horizontal x 2400 vertical dpi (optical)**
- Print 4"x6" Photo speed: 44 seconds (110% slower)
- Copy speed (FCOT): 20 seconds (40% slower)
- No printing on DVD/CD's
*The MG5520's 4800 horizontal x 2400 vertical max dpi COLOR PRINTING will meet MOST NEEDS. The Pro photo inkjet printers (PRO-1/PRO-10/PRO-100) even max out at 4800 horizontal dpi (though have finer vertical stepping capability), for example. Be sure to use specially designed paper (for example, enter "canon paper_guide" in a search engine) to really see the difference of the higher resolution. Also, print from an application in which you can choose the profile for that paper (ex: many Adobe products) if possible, too.
**The MG5520's 1200 horizontal x 2400 vertical max dpi SCAN will meet MOST NEEDS (though it is too low for some film/slide scanning needs especially if you plan to enlarge). For example, even a 2.5"x3.5" paper photo scanned at 1200dpi may enlarge to 8x10 comfortably, though frankly you will be fortunate if that amount of info is even available from the photo. It is therefore also moot to argue enlargement benefits of over 1200dpi scanning of paper photos as the detail is likely not there for over 1200dpi.
Some Pros of MG5520 over MG5420:
- MG5520 will automatically turn on if it is off when a print request is sent.
- MG5520 doesn't require a wireless router to print from a mobile device, it has an Access Point Mode which allows direct printing to the printer without need for a wireless router.
- MG5520 allows you to print directly (no computer needed) from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, DropBox, Evernote, and more, via apps downloaded to the printer.
I don't think the few ancillary pros of the MG5520 outweigh MG5420's superior features, though the info is there to make your own call. And if you want your cake and to eat it, too, the MG7120 for a bit more money will give you the benefits of the MG5420 plus the MG5520 benefits, plus the GRAY toner tank and ETHERNET to boot.
For folks not as familiar with printers, I created this section to help delineate when you CLEARLY DON'T want a Canon ink jet printer in the popular 5320/5420/6210/6220/6320/82XX model range at all. Perhaps it may help you find a good starting point to meet your needs.
YOU ARE ALL ABOUT PHOTOS, CAN
SPEND HUNDREDS MORE, AND DON'T
CARE ABOUT COPY, SCAN, ETC:
Consider checking these:
(per a leading consumer magazine and reviews)
- Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II
- Canon Pixma Pro1
- Canon Pixma Pro10
- Canon Pixma Pro100
- Epson Stylus R2000
YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT PHOTO QUALITY,
YOU WANT ETHERNET, SHARP B&W TEXT,
GREAT SPEED, AND LOWER PRINT COSTS
Consider checking out these lasers
as a starting point:
(per a leading consumer magazine or reviews)
- Samsung Xpress M2825DW
- Brother HL-2270DW
- HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401n/M401dne
- Samsung Multifunction Xpress SL-M2875FW
- Canon imageCLASS MF4770n/4890dw
YOU CARE ABOUT PHOTO QUALITY, DON'T
CARE ABOUT GRAY, WANT ETHERNET, AND
MUST HAVE FAX BUILT-IN
- Canon MX922
- Canon MX892
YOU CARE ABOUT PHOTO QUALITY AND
CARE GREATLY ABOUT STRAIGHT/REAR
PAPER FEED BUT DON'T NEED TO
SPEND FOR A PRO-100/10/1
- Canon MX892 (released 2012)
- Canon MG6220/MG5320 (released 2011)
- Canon IP8720 (released 2014)
- Canon IX6820 (released 2014)
Hope that helps someone :).