Pros:Cheap; easy set-up; mono print quality; scanning software
Cons:Frequent jams; page curling; no document feeder; plastic parts everywhere.
The Bottom Line: It's good if you get it cheap to use with an older PC, and you don't ask too much of it.
One & a half years ago, I finally upgraded from my ancient inkjet printer to this Canon MF3240 All-In-One -- now selling for under $150, if you shop around. Like one of those handy-dandy kitchen tools of yore, it prints, it scans, it faxes, it copies. I didn't actually need it to do all of that, but I did need a cheap laser printer (mono), for perfect-looking letters & scripts; for me the other functions were icing on the cake. As my home lacks a phone line, I've never used the fax.
Recommend this product?
Those shopping for a new printer should know a few things up front: this model was made to work with Windows 98 through XP Home. I cannot say if it will be compatible with Vista, but I can run it with Windows 7 on my new laptop (it took a bit of effort to find & install the right 64-bit drivers). Also, it is clearly meant for the home or small business; compared with the commercial machines where I work, this looks & performs like a toy. But hey, it's cheap -- so I try to adjust my expectations accordingly.
The printer is a 25 lb. white plastic block with a dark blue mouth-like opening where the pages come out. There's no document feeder, so you place one original on the glass at a time, just like the old days. Obviously it's not meant for high-volume copying. You can feed blank envelopes or paper through a slot manually, but I rely mainly on the internal paper tray, which holds up to 250 sheets, letter or legal size. The control panel is reasonably easy to navigate (if you read the manual) and includes a keypad & speed-dialer for the fax.
As this is a plug-&-play device, it sets up almost instantly; you do have to buy a USB cable separately. I just print from whatever app I'm using, easy-peasy. For scanning (up to 600 x 1200 dpi) Canon included not just its own OCR software, but ScanSoft OmniPage SE and Presto! PageManager 7, which sounds like overkill (these might work with Windows 7, using a WinXP compatibility mode, I haven't tried it yet). But one can use just the minimal controls to keep it simple. I've scanned photos for emailing, and documents for pdfs, and for the casual user it's more than adequate.
Printing is a mixed bag: I love the sharpness of laser printing that doesn't bleed or run, even if it's in black only. The Canon warms up fast after plugging in (it has no power switch), about 10 seconds, and then it cranks out about 20 pages a minute. Until it jams, that is. It's not the nasty kind of jam that forces you to extract a mangled page from the innards. It's the annoying kind that makes you open the front hatch and paper tray, then shut them again to make the jam message go away. It happens at random, regardless of the level in the paper tray.
The other irritant is page curling: this may be common for home laser printers; the heat makes the pages curl up, esp. if the paper contains any moisture (as it does in San Francisco). Therefore don't even think about 2-sided printing -- the bad kind of jamming is guaranteed if you try to feed curled pages back in.
I have yet to find a printer that does envelopes without some degree of frustration. Yes, the Canon does take envelopes without shredding them, but the feed isn't always straight, and the envelopes get a bit wrinkled -- you know how that goes. Meh.
If it sounds like I lack enthusiasm, you're right. The MF3240 is good for occasional use -- for me, once a week at most. If I had to use it daily, I'm sure I'd regret buying the thing. If I were upgrading now, esp. to use with a newer PC, I'd definitely go with another model.
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