The Canon PIXMA MX870 is a slightly more office orientated version of the PIXMA MP640, adding fax functionality and a 35-sheet ADF but losing the facility to print directly onto optical discs.

Its stablemate earned a five-star review back in MacFormat issue 215, and the new machine succeeds admirably in living up to these high standards.

The MX870's build quality is exceptionally good, as are the useful little touches such as the LEDs that light up to show an ink tank is fitted correctly. The paper tray opens automatically when the machine's about to print, and it's so easy to set up and use that you barely need its comprehensive printed manual. Connectivity is also covered through USB, Wi-Fi or Ethernet options.

Its print quality lives up to the high standards set by recent Canon releases. The five-tank system uses pigmented black ink for text printing, giving vivid, clear results with very little bleed. It's waterproof too – perfect for envelopes and flyers.

In our speed test, a 20-page document printed in four minutes, 58 seconds, which is a little slow but acceptable for a home-office machine.

The MX870 performed very well in our default-quality, plain-paper photo test, giving a very serviceable print with very little banding. The colours were a little bleached, but overall it's as good as you could expect given the paper quality and print speed.

But it's when we slotted some photo paper in the rear tray and ramped up the quality to high that the printer really came into its own: beautifully rich colours, super-smooth gradient ramps and outstanding detail. If you value quality over speed, the MX870 gives no cause for complaints.

The Canon PIXMA MX870 is ideal for home and home-office use. Its print standards are every bit as good as our current favourite machine, the Canon PIXMA MP640, so which one you go for depends on whether you value the MX870's fax features and sheet feeder over the MP640's on-disc printing. The choice is yours.

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