Product Review – Canon PIXMA MX-870 Inkjet Multifunction Printer


The network-enabled printer that I am now reviewing is the Canon PIXMA MX-870 which is positioned at the top-end of the home and small-office / home-office range. It is another of the multifunction printers that are starting to complete a “bridge” between the high-end of a manufacturer’s consumer-oriented range and the low-end of their small-business range when it comes to inkjet-based multifunction printers.

Canon PIXMA MX-870 multifunction printer

Print Scan Copy Fax Document Feeder Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour Double-sided 2 x A4 USB
Inkjet 2400dpi         Ethernet
Automatic Double-sided           802.11g WPA2 WPS wireless




Black 22.95
Cyan 22.95
Magenta 22.95
Yellow 22.95
Photo-Black 22.95


This printer is the PIXMA MX350’s bigger and more expensive stablemate but offers a lot more for the price. Most of the operations are very similar to the MX350, where the main functions are a button away. Even the quick-forms functions are similar in capability to what the MX350, with the support for printing music sheets that have 12 staves for composing and arranging “vocal+piano”, quartet or organ music.

The network connectivity is very similar to the MX350 where it can be hooked up to either a WPS-capable 802.11g WPA2-PSK wireless-network segment or a Cat5 Ethernet network segment. This can then cater for use with “no-new-wires” network segments based on HomePlug powerline or MoCA TV-coaxial technology when used with the appropriate bridge device.

The fax caters for the full requirements for single-line setups like FaxStream Duet (distinctive-ring) or automatic detect with telephone answering machines as well as the traditional dedicated-line setup. It can work “best-case” with colour transmission and reception.

There is even further improvement with receiving faxes where the unit can be set to print on both sides of the paper when it receives a multi-page fax. This feature can be very confusing when the fax is a separate pre-written document accompanied with a cover page or cover letter because the start of the document may be on the back of the cover page / letter.

It is also worth knowing that there is an optional Bluetooth interface kit which allows you to print pictures on your mobile phone using this printer or the MX350. This can also work with the 

Improvements over the MX350

5 Separate ink cartridges

Five separate ink cartridges

One major improvement that I like is that it uses separately-replaceable cartridges for each of the colours rather than a single colour cartridge. Here, you have 5 inks in separate cartridges which makes this printer more economical to operate

Paper handling

Front paper tray

Paper tray at front of the printer

There is a drawer on the front of the machine which is used for A4 or Letter plain paper. This drawer, which is referred to as the “cassette”, is where you would keep regular paper for use in ordinary print or copy jobs and receiving faxes while you use the rear feeder for printing on to special media like coated or glossy paper. When documents are printed from the paper held in this drawer, the paper path is a “horseshoe” path similar to many HP and Brother printers rather than the linear path used by Epson printers and Canon printers, including this one when it uses the rear tray.

There is also an automatic duplexer which I am very pleased with especially if you want to do your own short-run desktop publishing rather than just use it to conserve paper. Here, you don’t have forced margins or scaling involved and you have a very slight registration shift of 1 or 2 mm between the front and back sides of the page. The only limitation is that you have a 20-second per page time penalty when you print on both sides.

The automatic document feeder is also capable of scanning both sides of a page but it does this in a sequential manner. This can still benefit those of us who scan documents like accounts to PDF for electronic archiving.

User Experience issues

You may find that paper won’t load from the front tray and the printer will show “out of paper” errors for that paper source. This can be rectified by running the printer through a cleaning cycle for the paper-feed roller, which you do by pressing the “Setup” button and selecting “Maintenance”, then “Roller Clean” on the “Maintenance” menu.

Windows 7 users will notice that the printer isn’t replicated twice for the “print-to-fax” queue and the regular printer queue. What will happen is that when they click on the printer in “Devices And Printers”, they will see the printer’s Device Stage which is a “branded” user interface for the printer. If they click on the device status line in the Device Stage header to see what is yet to be printed, they will see a drop-down box which gives the user an option between the printer queue and the print-to-fax queue.


There is still one problem with the software where the print monitor program can be out of step with printer, especially if the computer and the printer are working across the network.

Another limitation that I have found with this printer is that there aren’t any high-yield ink cartridges available for it, which can be of a limitation if you do a lot of printing or have to provide for a period where a lot of documents have to be printed like end-of-school-year.

Similarly, I would like to see the front paper tray be able to hold more paper, especially if you expect to receive more faxes or do a lot of short-run desktop publishing. As well, I have always said this that the printer manufacturers need to take advantage of flash memory being available at cheaper prices in order to provide for efficient print-job handling.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend this printer as another option for a home-office or small-business printer, especially where double-sided printing or scanning are required and the business places importance on fax capability. It would also work well for people who will want to use the automatic double-sided printing function as part of their short-run desktop-publishing requirements.

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