Bluetooth version of the MX860
Wonderfully versatile printer with multiple paper handling options. Duplex feeder is a plus!
Output for originals can use improvement, but not a big deal.
The Bottom Line:
Highly reommended; however, please consider the MX860 first if you have no need for bluetooth printing. You will save $50 with the MX860...but I am happy with the MX870 purchase.
This review will almost mirror my review of the MX860, which I purchased for my parents after I purchased the MX870 for myself. Overall, the MX870 has all of the features of the MX860 but with some added benefits such as bluetooth with a price differential of about $50 more. The MX870 has a slightly better navigation experience with a different front-panel button setup.
If I had to do again, I probably would have purchased the MX860 for myself to save $50 since I don't use bluetooth printing, but I am satisfied with the MX870 purchase.
Why I ended up with Canon:
I have worked with various high-end consumer inkjet printers in the past to support my photography hobby. I used several Epsons, a Canon, and more recently, an HP pigment-based printer...all around $500 printers for serious printing (but not quite at the professional level). The Epson I liked, but I found that it consumed too much ink. Canon was a bit more economical, but I did not like the bronzing of the prints, the HP had wonderful print longevity since it was one of the few pigment-based ink printers on the market. What I found with all those printers was that I did not print frequently enough for the setup to be considered economical. When you do not print frequently, the nozzles clog and need to be self-cleaned by the printer. This is what I believe causes most consumers to wonder why their ink cartridges run out of ink after making relatively few prints. The problem is compounded with pigment-based ink (the HP). Although pigment-based ink has superior color longevity (archival quality), it is considered a perishable as it sits in the ink cartridge waiting to be used. If it sits around for about a year and you didn't use it, it 'expires' and no amount of nozzle cleaning is going to make up for that...you will need to throw it out. So I eventually gave up on the idea of home-based high-end printing and decided to leave that up to services such as mpix.com.
At home however, I still wanted to be able to print a nice photo once in a while (not expecting archival quality, nor outstanding color gamut and such...just prints that I can share with friends.) I also wanted to consolidate some space by getting an all-in-one. I wanted a printer that used an ink system that was not exclusive to one printer, so that perhaps there would be an economy of scale...if more people are buying those ink systems, the price would be driven down. Canon's ink met my initial criteria, so the selections narrowed to the MX8xx series. That and already owning Canon cameras probably solidified the choice (although this last one was not a huge factor).
The other incentive for buying this printer was to help reduce the paperwork that tends to accumulate in my home. A duplex (double-sided) feeder would help reduce time when scanning documents such as bank statements, etc. (BTW, if you can get the downloaded statements from your bank, credit card company, etc., you can skip this scanning step. Also, I used Adobe Acrobat PDF as the file format for my scanned documents.)
Setup is a breeze...most of the work is removing all of the orange tape that prevented the parts from moving around during shipment. There is no assembly required; however, one needs to load a printer head part into the printer before loading the individual print cartridges...this is pretty standard for most inkjet setups these days. After connecting to the PC via USB and running the driver setup, you are pretty much ready to go within 30 minutes.
Printer Paper Handling (Identical to the MX860):
Paper sources include the manual tray on the back (mostly used for photo paper), and the loadable tray on the bottom of the printer. The tray has a small capacity, probably only for about 1/5 of a ream of paper. The tray is made of a rigid plastic that seems like it would crack if you are not careful. Loading paper from the back is very easy as long as you set the sliding paper guides appropriately. I normally have a printer tucked away where you cannot see much of the back...I was able to set the guides and load paper without having to do much looking. No experiences with paper loading jams or the sort so far. I suspect the MX870 might have a little more paper handling options than the MX860, but I have not been able to confirm this yet.
Scanner/Fax Paper Handling (Identical to the MX860):
The duplex feeder is also one of the main features I was looking for, not so much for fax, but for the scanner. Scanning time is relatively slow compared to an office-class scanner, but adequate for home use. I believe the printer can hold almost a quarter inch high stack of double-sided paper, which you can leave alone before it completes the task. Duplex scanning is limited to 8.5 x 11 (and maybe A4), but definitely nothing larger like legal. Simplex scanning can handle larger papers like legal. The "platen" scanning (flatbed) can handle up to A4 I believe...anything longer will require the simplex scanner. Given those three modes (duplex feeder, simplex feeder, and plate), I believe 80% of your scanning needs will be met. It will not handle anything like 11x17. The scanner's feed is consistently good...so far it has not grabbed more than one sheet at a time (a common problem for most scanners as they get older.) I am guessing that I have a year before this becomes a problem, in which case the rubber rollers (whatever is grabbing the paper) would probably need to be cleaned or replaced.
The only thing that can use some improvement would be the scanner's output (where it deposits your originals after using the feeder)...if you have more than 4 pages, some pages might get pushed out and you end up with scattered originals...not a big deal. This experience has been the same with both the MX860 and the MX870.
Scan Quality (Identical to MX860):
I usually scan at 200 dpi for documents, 300 dpi for photos, and above 300 dpi for high-end photos or documents. Scans are excellent and I usually do not need to make any adjustments prior to or after the scan when I use the auto-exposure setting. There are a few times where if the paper is not white (e.g. an older browned paper), I would need to adjust contrast and brightness, but the software was fairly intuitive to use and I was able to make such adjustments without needing to consult the manual.
Overall fair-to-good. The plastics don't seem as solid as some of those older HP printers, but it's what you can expect for a $100 printer. Buttons are solid and respond well. Same level of quality as the MX860.
Print Quality/Speed (Identical to MX860):
No complaints. On Canon glossy paper (II?), the prints are vivid, dry as they come out of the printer, have excellent dynamic rnage (at least to my eyes), and friends comment that they look like they came out of a photo lab (which is not uncommon for consumer photo printers these days.) Printing speed is adequate by today's standards...I do not have any special need for it to print any faster since I don't presume to replace a photo lab. (If I had a need to more volume, I would not be using a home printer.) Like I said earlier, if your need is just to make an occasional print for your albums or for sharing, this is an ideal printer. If you have high-volume printing needs, consider something else, or perhaps an online service for better economy. The printer is fairly quite as it prints and the printer will not shake its surroundings too much during operation. Scanning operation is probably louder than printing operation.
After about a month of ownership and use, I would say that ink consumption is on par with other inkject printers that I have used. Yes, the ink levels indicators seem to drop faster than you were hoping, but this seems to be the norm for all inkjet printers these days. The only saving grace is that I have found canon ink replacement to be more economical versus HP and definitely Epson.
4 of the 5 individual ink tanks are dye-based, the 5th (black) tank is pigment-based. Please recall what I said earlier about pigment-based ink (more archival, but perishable)...I believe this 5th tank gets consumed a lot during printing since it is black, so I don't believe you will run into excessive 'waste' issues normally associated with pigment-based ink.
Fax Quality/Speed (Identical to MX860):
I could not confirm the output on the other end, but I presume it is fairly decent an on par with other fax/scanners on the market. The fax speed however is fairly fast and I think they are using some sort of compression routine to make the fax go faster.
Front Panel Navigation (Slight variation from MX860):
Overall, navigation is easy with the layout of buttons provided. There are 4 buttons set aside for which mode you want the printer to be in (scan, fax, copy, print). If you are doing most of your operations from a PC, you will probably rarely use these with the exception of an old-fashioned fax or copy. The main 4-way cursor control for the menuing system will be used the most along with the center "OK" button, which is used to make the selection. I found that the navigation was a tad easier than the MX860, but not significant. I am guessing that the MX870 is a more recent design and perhaps incorporates some of the usability improvements suggested from the MX860 introduction.
Copier (Identical to MX860):
Copier operation is straight-forward, and access to copier adjustments is very easy and intuitive. So far, I have not had to consult the manual to do most of the basic things like enlarge reduce, # copies, etc.
Plug-and-play for network setup seems to be automatic. My home network found the printer and I don't remember even setting it up for the network. The printer (as with all network appliances) has its own MAC address if you need to add it to a secured network.
Storage/Footprint (Identical to MX860):
Compared to other all-in-ones in its class, the Canon MX8xx series has a smaller footprint. When not in use, the trays fold in to take up less space (and also act as dust protection for its interior). The printer output tray opens automatically when it is about to print...a lot of people seem to be impressed with this insignificant feature.
The MX870 has media input for various cards (SD, CompactFlash, others) and a USB input port, all conveniently accessible on the front behind a cover. I tried printing a photo from an SD card, and the printer automatically went into "print" mode awaiting instructions to either print or adjust my photo. Wonderfully simple PC-less printing.
The MX870 has a bluetooth and wi-fi printing option. I rarely use either. I suppose the bluetooth would be nice if you are printing from a bluetooth netbook, or even from a bluetooth-enabled phone...but how often will you need that?
I believe the MX870 has PDF as a selectable scanner output, but I have not tried this since I already have Acrobat and would probably want more control of the scanned document than a fixed PDF document.