Canon imageClass MF4890dw Review

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The Canon imageClass MF4890dw monochrome laser multifunction printer offers all the usual MFP features plus the ability to scan both sides of a page for duplex (two-sided) scanning, copying, and faxing.

(4 out of 5)

Pros

  • Fast
  • Prints, scans, faxes, copies
  • Duplex printing
  • Duplexing automatic document feeder
  • Ethernet and Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Wi-Fi support is for infrastructure mode only

Essentially identical to the Editors’ Choice Canon imageClass MF4880dw in most ways, the Canon imageClass MF4890dw mono laser MFP adds one feature. Its automatic document feeder (ADF) can duplex, meaning it can turn pages over to scan both sides. For anyone who has to deal with scanning, copying, or faxing duplex documents, this can save loads of time, making it well worth the extra cost.

The duplexing ADF also offers a somewhat higher paper capacity than the MF4880dw’s ADF, at 50 sheets rather than 35. Beyond that, however, it’s hard to find any other difference between the two printers. Both are good choices for either sharing on a network in a micro or small office or for use as a heavy-duty personal printer; both let you connect to either a wired or Wi-Fi network; and both limit their Wi-Fi capability to infrastructure mode only, which means you can only connect to a network with an access point.

Basic MFP features include the ability to print and fax from as well as scan to a PC, including over a network, plus the ability to work as a standalone copier and fax machine. As is typical for a small-office MFP, the ADF can scan up to legal-size pages and is paired with a flatbed that’s limited to letter size.

Paper handling for printing is suitable for most small offices with light- to medium-duty print needs, with one 250-sheet tray, a manual feed, and an automatic print duplexer. Very much worth mention is that the combination of a duplexing ADF and duplexing printer lets you copy both single and double-sided originals to your choice of single or double-sided copies.

Setup and Speed
Setting up the MF4890dw is typical for a small-office mono laser MFP. Given its size, at roughly 14.2 by 15.4 by 17.0 inches (HWD), you probably won’t want the printer sitting on your desk, but you should be able to find room for it even in a small office without too much trouble. For my tests I connected it to a network using the Ethernet port and installed the drivers on a Windows Vista system.

The default setting for the MF4890dw driver after installation is for duplex printing, which is the setting I used for our official tests. However there’s a significant difference between Canon’s ratings for the printer in duplex and simplex (one-sided) modes, at 16 pages per minute (ppm) for duplex and 26 ppm for simplex, so I tested both.

The rated speeds should be close to what you’ll see when printing a text file with little formatting. On our tests, I timed the printer (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 9.6 ppm in duplex mode and 12.2 ppm in simplex mode. Not surprisingly, both modes were essentially tied with the MF4880dw. A better indication of the speed relative to the competition, however, is that even in duplex mode, the MF4890dw was essentially tied with the similarly priced OKI MB451w that I recently reviewed, even though the MB451w was set for simplex mode as the default setting.

Output Quality
Output quality for the MF4890dw is more than acceptable for most business use, with text at the high end of the range that includes most mono laser MFPs, and both graphics and photo output at the low ends of the equivalent, but much tighter, ranges for graphics and photo quality.

For text, that translates to the output being suitable by most people’s standards for any business use short of high-quality desktop publishing. Graphics output is a step down from that level, suitable for any internal business need, but only potentially good enough for PowerPoint handouts or the like, depending on how demanding an eye you have. Photo quality is easily good enough to print Web pages with recognizable photos, but only potentially good enough for newsletters or the like, depending once again on the quality level you insist on.

Much like the Canon MF4880dw that’s it’s so similar to, the MF4890dw delivers a well-balanced set of features that add up to making it a solid performer. Unlike the MF4880dw, however, it also offers a single feature —in the form of its duplexing ADF—that stands out as a reason to choose it or not. If you rarely, if ever, need to scan, copy, or fax duplex documents, you can save a few dollars by choosing the nearly identical but cheaper MF4880dw. If scanning in duplex is something you need, however, the Canon imageClass MF4890dw is easily worth the extra cost, and it also gives you all the features that make the MF4880dw Editors’ Choice.

By M. David Stone, PCMag

Specifications

  • Printer Category: Laser
  • Type: All-In-One
  • Color or Monochrome: Monochrome
  • Technology (for laser category only): Laser
  • Connection Type: USB, Ethernet, Wireless
  • Maximum Standard Paper Size: Legal
  • Direct Printing from Cameras: No
  • Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono): 16 ppm
  • Standalone Copier and Fax: Copier, Fax
  • Print Duplexing: Automatic


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