Canon's Hearty Workhorse
The Good: Crisp, clean copies, with fax, scanning, and network capabilities
The Bad: Bulkier than rival printers, black and white only
The Bottom Line: A good all-in-one system for small businesses
For the past couple of years, printer companies have focused as much on improving the form of their devices as their function. Not so Canon's imageCLASS MF6580. As you take it out of the box, it's clear this multifunction laser printer is all business. At a little over 50 pounds, it's designed more for small and midsize businesses that don't want to spring for floor models, but who need to do loads of heavy office printing and faxing.
That said, the $1,000 unit ably handles all the jobs that other machines might perform separately, and ultimately could be a good space-saver—even at 17.8 by 20.5 by 17.3 inches.
Fast and Smooth
The device is easy to set up, once you purchase a separate USB printer cable or network the printer with Ethernet and an optional printer server. Despite an accompanying instruction manual that's as thick as a novel, it took only 10 minutes to install the appropriate software on my computer. The Canon (CAJ) printer is compatible with both Microsoft (MSFT) Windows and Apple (AAPL) machines, though it only includes scanning software for Windows devices.
The only confusing thing in the setup process is that Canon includes device drivers for all the MF6500 series printers, and you need to choose the appropriate one from an array of similar-looking options.
The printer provides crisp, clean laser printouts at speeds of up to 23 pages a minute, at a resolution of 1,200 by 600 dots per inch, or dpi. Once you press the print button, copies of documents and pages formatted for print off the Internet are delivered quickly and quietly.