Not many printers can deliver price, quality, and a great design for just $159, but the Canon MG6120 makes it look easy. This printer/scanner/copier offers a duplexer for double-sided printing, kicks out sharp and colorful photos, and includes an application that can print any size image from your Android or iOS device. But how does this all-in-one printer stack up against the competition?
The MG6120 is a beauty of a printer. The top lid is made of a black glassy plastic that extends to the sides and the front of the unit's 18.5 x 14.5 x 6.9-inch frame. In the center of the lid, a tilting 3-inch display sits flush with the surface and can be angled up to 85 degrees. The display is not touch-sensitive, but the buttons that appear illuminated in blue on the printer's lid are. Aside from a five-point navigation and selection button, the touch buttons are contextual, so they change based on the printer mode.
The MG6120's lid rises to reveal a flatbed scanner for making copies and scanning pictures or documents. Below that, there's a fold-down printer tray, and farther down sits a 150-sheet cassette paper tray. Just to the right are slots for SD, Memory Stick, and Multimedia cards. Around back is a manual paper tray for photo and legal paper and envelopes, a USB port, a power plug, and an Ethernet port for attaching the MG6120 to a network.
Getting the MG6120 connected to our wireless network was a cinch. Navigating using the 3-inch LCD display and the touch buttons was fairly intuitive, so finding the Wireless LAN Setup under the "Set Up" menu was a no-brainer. Once Canon's drivers were installed on our notebook, we were able to start producing documents and photos in no time.
Canon also offers a Bluetooth adapter (sold separately for $49.99).
Canon Easy-PhotoPrint App
The Canon Easy-PhotoPrint app works with Android 1.6 or higher and iOS version 4.0, but it can only be used to print pictures, not documents, presentations, web pages, or anything else (unlike Epson's PrintJinni app). It can also only print to printers on the same Wi-Fi network as the device. On the other hand, there are a host of print options, such as paper size (8.5 x 11, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10 inches, and more), paper type (glossy, matte, regular, and semi-glossy), and border settings.
Our iPod touch connected to the MG6120 in just 4 seconds and printed a 4 x 6-inch photo via the Easy-PhotoPrint app in 35 seconds. That time is much faster than the HP Photosmart C510a (1:39) and slightly better than the Kodak ESP C310 (39 seconds) but not as speedy as the Epson Artisan 835 (27 seconds).
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Print Performance and Photo Quality
To test the MG6120, we printed one three-page Word document, one three-page color PDF, and a high-quality 8.5 x 11-inch photo over Wi-Fi, via USB, and via the Easy-PhotoPrint print app. Wi-Fi times were 44 seconds for the Word document, 1:12 for the PDF, and 4:34 for the high-quality 8.5 x 11 photo. Those times were longer than the Wi-Fi speeds of all the other printers we tested for this roundup. Comparatively, the $179 Epson Artisan 835 completed the same tasks in 35 seconds, 46 seconds, and 03:15, and the $299 HP PhotoSmart eStation C510a completed the same jobs in 24 seconds, 48 seconds, and 2:49.
Print times dropped significantly when we used the USB connection ($3.95; shop.usa.canon.com ). The Word document completed in just 21 seconds, the PDF took 50 seconds, and the photo printed in a comparatively brief 1:30. Those times are fast, but the Epson Artisan 835 printed the PDF and the 8.5 x 11 color photo much faster (35 seconds and 1:11). Potential Canon MG6120 buyers might want to purchase the USB cord (sold separately) and keep their notebook close to the printer.
The MG6120 prints color pages with a resolution up to 9600 x 2400 dpi and text pages up to 600 x 600 dpi. Our prints mostly matched the saturation and lighting of the original photo stored on our iPod touch. Though parts of the photo were a little dark, the HP PhotoSmart eStation C510a produced even darker photos. The focus of our subject stood out crisply from the background but lacked some of the detail of the original image. We liked the Epson Artisan 835 more thanks to the automatic adjustments it made to color quality and details, but the MG6120 still delivers quality photos.
The serif fonts in our Word document looked clean and sharp, but we noticed some very faint spotting in solid colors on the PDFs. A solid green header looked hazy due to tiny, dot-sized patches of white.
Ink Cartridge Cost
The MG6120 uses six ink cartridges. In addition to cyan, magenta, and yellow, the printer also uses a dedicated gray cartridge, a pigment black for printing documents, and a dye-based black for photos. Each cartridge costs $13.99, except the larger pigment black, which costs $15.99. Those prices fall in the middle of the other printers' ink cartridge costs. The HP Photosmart C510a's standard cartridges are a cheaper $9.99, but the ink for the Epson Artisan 835 costs $17.09 for black and $10.44 apiece for five color cartridges.
Canon's bundled cartridge prices aren't bad. Canon groups cyan, magenta, yellow, and dye-based black cartridges for $55.99, and a similar package that includes the pigment-based black instead costs $51.99. Gray is not bundled. Epson charges $52.99 for a multi-pack that includes five color cartridges, but it does not include a black cartridge. However, HP sells a three-color ink cartridge bundle for $22.99.
Canon includes Easy PhotoPrint EX, which lets users edit photos on a notebook and makes it easy to create a calender, photo album, or a set of stickers from photos. Easy PhotoPrint Pro is a professional plug-in for Photoshop users, and Easy-WebPrint EX installs a Internet Explorer toolbar for printing clips of web pages.
The Canon MG6120 also includes printer-based software to help tweak photos stored on a memory card. Vivid Photo reintroduces color detail that gets lost in digital pictures, and Noise Reduction takes care of any pixel fuzziness in compressed photos. Other tools include Brightness, Color Balance, Contrast, Effects, Face Brightener, Image Optimizer, and Photo Optimizer Pro.
MyPrinter diagnoses printer problems and adjusts settings such as paper source and size, and Canon MP Navigator EX lets you use the MG6120's scanner wirelessly and import pictures and files from media cards stored in the printer's card reader.
The MG6120 is capable of 4800 x 4800 dpi scans and can accommodate documents up to 8.5 x 11.7 inches. The copy machine includes a duplexer for two-sided copies, auto-exposure adjustment, and a range of 25 to 400-percent reduction or enhancement.
It wasn't the printer with the fastest speed or best print quality, but the $159 Canon Pixma MG6120 provides plenty of features--including the ability to print from your Android or iOS device--for a good price. It can handle documents with ease, and casual photographers will enjoy the photo quality this all-in-one delivers. If you have a little more to spend, the $179 Epson Artisan 835 is our top choice. It offers better speed and even better-looking photos than the Canon, along with handy photo correction software. Still, those who are looking for an affordable and attractive photo printer can't go wrong with the MG6120.