Canon Color imageClass MF628Cw


Based on price alone, the Canon Color imageClass MF628Cw ($399) is an obvious candidate if you need a color laser multifunction printer (MFP) for your micro office or for personal use and want one that can print, scan, copy, and fax. It’s a little larger than most MFPs aimed primarily at micro offices, which may force you to look elsewhere if space is tight. But if you have enough room in your office, it can be worth a look.

The biggest argument against the MF628Cw$249.99 at Amazon is that it’s not hard to find competition that delivers significantly more capability for only a little more money. Most notably, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon, our Editors’ Choice light-duty color laser MFP for SoHo use, matches or beats the MF628Cw in most ways—including offering faster speed and somewhat better text quality. It’s also smaller and lighter. If you don’t need the extra capability, however, the MF628Cw’s lower price will make it the more attractive choice.

Basic MFP features for the MF628Cw include printing, copying, scanning, and faxing—including scanning to and faxing from a PC—as well as standalone copying and faxing. In addition, it can print from or scan to a USB memory key, and it offers support for mobile printing and scanning.

Connect the printer to your network by Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and you can connect to it though an access point from iOS and Android phones and tablets to print from or scan to your mobile device. Assuming the network is connected to the Internet, you can also print through the cloud. If you connect to a single PC via USB cable instead, you won’t be able to print through the cloud, but you can still print to or scan from the printer using a mobile device by taking advantage of the built-in equivalent to Wi-Fi Direct, which lets you connect directly to the printer.

Paper capacity for the main tray is limited to 150 sheets. That matches the HP M277dw’s capacity and is one of the key design choices that make both printers best suited to light-duty use. It’s enough for most personal printing, but it’s on the meager side for a shared printer in a micro office.

One welcome extra is a single-sheet manual feed to let you print one- or two-page documents on a different paper stock without having to swap out paper in the main tray. Unlike the HP M277dw, however, the MF628Cw doesn’t include automatic duplexing for two-sided printing.

Another extra is a 3.5-inch, color touch-screen control panel. In addition to being large enough to make it easy to hit the command you’re aiming for, the backlit screen is highly readable, and it offers well-designed menus. When you’re printing files from a USB key, however, it doesn’t let you preview the files onscreen before printing them.

Setup and Speed
At 52.9 pounds without its toner cartridges, or 57.3 pounds with them, the MF628Cw is heavy enough that moving it is a two-person job. The printer is also big enough, at 16.9 by 17 by 19.1 inches (HWD), that you might have trouble finding room for it in micro or home office. Assuming you have enough flat space, however, setup is standard fare. For my tests, I connected it to a network using its Ethernet port and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista.

I clocked the MF628Cw on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 4.4ppm. That’s within the typical range for its rating of 14 pages per minute (ppm) for both color and monochrome pages. It’s also faster than some of its competition, including the Samsung Multifunction Xpress C460FW$180.99 at Amazon, at 3.3ppm. However it’s a lot slower than the HP M277dw, at 8.4ppm.

Interestingly, the MF628Cw was slower in our tests than the Canon Color imageClass MF624Cw$279.99 at Amazon, which managed 5.5ppm, even though Canon says both are essentially identical except for the addition of fax capability in the MF628Cw.

A close look at my results shows that the difference in speed comes entirely from the MF624Cw’s better speed for the first page of each print job. If you count only the time after the first page comes out (which is how engine speeds are timed), and ignore single-page documents, both printers delivered the same speed on our tests. In practical terms, that means there’s only a few seconds difference with single-page documents, and the more pages you print at once, the less of a difference you’ll see in pages per minute. In short, the difference won’t matter much in real-world use.

Output Quality
The MF628Cw’s output quality for text is as the low end of the range that includes the vast majority of color laser MFPs. Fortunately, laser text quality is good enough in general for even the low end of the range to be suitable for any business use, as long as you don’t have an unusual need for small font sizes.

Overall graphics output is one step above most of the competition. Almost all of the individual images in my tests were good enough to use for marketing materials. There was one exception, however, with 1-pixel-wide lines against a black background nearly disappearing. That suggests you should check each individual image carefully before you use it in a situation where top quality matters.

Photo output is one step down from average. The majority of color laser MFPs offer near-photo quality. The MF628Cw’s output quality in my tests was just enough below that that I wouldn’t use it for, say, a real-estate handout or marketing materials. However, they’re good enough for anything less demanding than that.

If you don’t need a fax capability, consider the Canon MF624Cw, which is less expensive than the Canon Color imageClass MF628Cw and a bit faster on our tests as well. If you need to fax, the HP M277dw costs a little more than the MF628Cw, but offers substantially more capability and is smaller and lighter as well. If you have room for the MF628Cw, however, don’t have the flexibility in your budget to spend any more than you have to, and need fax support, then it may appeal to you with its particular mix of speed, output quality, MFP features, and price.

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