The $349 Canon Color imageClass MF624Cw $349 color laser multifunction printer (MFP) delivers a mix of features and capabilities—most notably a low price and low paper capacity—that make it appealing for personal use or for use in a micro office. However, it’s big enough to look like it should be in a small office or workgroup. Whether you consider it a good (metaphorical) fit for your light-duty use will depend largely on whether it can physically fit in however much space you have available.
The MF624Cw$279.99 at Amazon is in the same category as the more expensive, but far more capable, HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon, our Editors’ Choice light-duty color laser MFP for SOHO use. However, it’s more directly competitive with the smaller and lighter HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fwBest Price at Amazon, which is the next step down in HP’s line.
All three printers offer a similar paper capacity, with a 150-sheet main tray, which is enough for most personal use, but limits all of them to light duty for shared use. Both the MF624Cw and the HP M277dw add single-sheet manual feeds, so you can print small print jobs on a different paper stock without having to swap out the paper in the main tray. However, the more expensive HP M277dw is the only one of the three that adds automatic duplexing for easy printing on both sides of the paper.
The MF624Cw falls somewhere between the two HP models in other key features as well. It did better on our tests for speed and text quality than the HP M177fw, but didn’t do as well as the HP M277dw. One clear disadvantage for it, compared with both HP MFPs, is its bulk. It’s bigger than either, and it’s the only one of the three that’s heavy enough that moving it into place is best done by two people.
Setup and Basics
The MF624Cw measures 16.9 by 17 by 19.1 inches (HWD) and weighs a hefty 52.9 pounds without the toner cartridges or 57.3 pounds with them. Assuming you have enough room for it, however, and preferably have someone to help you move it into place, setup is standard fare.
Basic MFP features are limited to printing, scanning, and copying. In addition, it can print from or scan to a USB memory key. The highly readable 3.5-inch color touch-screen control panel offers both well-designed menus and a large enough size to make it easy to hit the command you’re aiming for. However, you can’t use the LCD to preview files before printing them.
Also going beyond the basics is support for mobile printing and scanning. If you connect the printer directly to your network using either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, you can connect to it though an access point on the network to print from or scan to it using iOS and Android phones and tablets. Assuming the network is connected to the Internet, you can also print through the cloud.
If you choose to connect to a single PC via USB cable, you’ll lose the ability to print through the cloud. However, you can still use the MF624Cw to print from or scan to your mobile device by connecting directly, thanks to its built-in equivalent to Wi-Fi Direct
Print Speed and Output Quality
For my tests, I connected the printer to a network by Ethernet and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista. On our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), the MF624Cw came in at 5.5 pages per minute (ppm), which is fast for both the price and the 14ppm rating for monochrome and color. In comparison, the HP M177fw is slower, at only 2.9ppm, but the HP M277dw is significantly faster, at 8.4ppm.
Interestingly, the MF624CW was also faster in testing than the Canon Color imageClass MF628Cw$249.99 at Amazon at 4.4ppm, even though Canon says both are essentially identical except for the addition of fax support in the more expensive printer. Canon also rates both at the same speed. A close look at my results showed that the speed advantage for the MF624Cw comes entirely from being able to print the first page of each print job faster. If you start timing after the first page comes out (which is how engine speeds are timed), and ignore the results for one-page documents, both printers delivered the same speed.
Output quality for the MF624Cw is at the low end of typical for color laser MFPs for text, one step above most for graphics, and one step below most for photos. For text, that translates to being easily good enough for any business use, as long as you don’t have an unusual need for small font sizes.
Most graphics output is good enough even for marketing materials. However, you might need to check your images carefully before you decide to use them. In one particularly demanding test image with 1-pixel-wide lines against a black background, the lines were hard to see. Photos are best described as not-quite-near photo quality. I wouldn’t use them for a real estate handout or marketing materials, but they’re good enough for anything less demanding than that.
If you need a color laser MFP for a micro office or personal use, be sure to consider the HP M277dw. It costs a bit more than the Canon Color imageClass MF624Cw, but it delivers substantially more capability—including fax support, print duplexing, and better-quality text. Also consider both it and the HP M177fw if you don’t have much space available. Compared with the Canon model, either one will be easier to find room for. The MF624dw’s balance of speed, output quality, and price makes it a more-than-reasonable choice, however, if size and weight aren’t an issue, and you don’t need the extra features in the HP M277dw—or can’t afford it.