This happened in late December 2008 and since then I had been hunting around for its successor. It took me a while to find a worthy replacement as I had some pretty demanding requirements:
- It must be capable of printing photos at par with the photo labs.
- It must be capable of printing text and graphics for general business use.
- It must support auto duplex printing (no manual flipping of pages!).
- It must support individual ink tanks (at least four).
- It must have at least two input trays with one tray holding at least 100 sheets of A4 paper.
- It must print at reasonably fast speeds and quietness.
- It should print from media cards directly and cameras via PictBridge.
- It should support network printing.
- It must be capable of scanning at 9600 dpi (optical).
- It must be capable of scanning via an auto document feeder (ADF).
- It must be capable of scanning via an ADF in duplex mode.
- It must scan at reasonably fast speeds and quietness.
- It should support scanning directly to media cards
- It should support scanning directly to shared volumes over the network. (no PC!)
- It should support scanning directly to email via a SMTP gateway. (no PC!)
- It must be capable of copying via an ADF.
- It must support 2-sided-to-2-sided copying as well as other combinations.
- It must copy at reasonably fast speeds and quietness.
- It must be capable of sending mono and color faxes.
- It must be capable of sending fax standalone and via a PC.
- It must be capable of receiving fax in memory.
- It should be able to receive fax and store them to shared volumes over the network.
- It should be able to receive fax and forward them to an email address via a SMTP gateway.
4-in-1 Multi-Function Printers or All-in-One printers are pretty common nowadays. They even come in the price range of just over S$100! Unfortunately, these printers are usually either short in the quality, efficiency and/or features departments. Even the top end ones costing almost S$1k are still pretty lacking in the networking area. i.e. They still require a PC for some of its features like storing directly to shared volumes or sending to email. And what's the point of having networking capability if you still need a darn PC next to it?!
Some claim that these are really enterprise features and I should be looking at AIO printers in the enterprise class instead of the SOHO class. But I beg to differ as having a NAS or even just a shared file server and wanting scan/fax over email are no longer entitlements of the MNCs or even the SMEs; NAS boxes can be had for under half a grand (including 1Tb storage!) and for SMTP gateways, you can simply rely on the ones that came with your email providers.
Anyways, after months of searching, I have finally given up hope of finding one that fits all the above and instead, just settle for the one that come the closest. And there are not one but three choices; Cannon MX850, MX868 and MX7600 (sorted from cheapest to most expensive).
All three models are very similar in terms of quality and features. The differences are just that the MX868 has built-in WiFi and comes in a more compact form-factor while the MX7600 gives laser like quality via the "Pigment Reaction (PgR) technology".
And speaking of the IT SHOW 2009, the package that Canon had put together is a real joke; a useless bag, a mandatory trolley since its cash and carry, and... here's the kicker... product training. Wow... since when did product training become a freebie?! At least HP gave away additional warranty and Epson was giving out additional ink cartridges!
I did not feel good at all buying the printer at the fair but at least it has not disappointed me yet in terms of its print quality and speed. Getting it hooked up to my WiFi router and printing/scanning wirelessly is also quite a joy although pretty much an overkill since my laptop has to be almost right next to the printer. DUH!