Canon's Pixma MX860 is a beast of a printer, but it crams so much in we can't hold that against it. It features two 150-sheet input trays and an output tray that flips open automatically if you try to print with it closed, as well as a 35-sheet ADF on top for quick copying of multipage documents.
With both pigmented and dye-based black inks to go with the cyan, magenta and yellow, it's set up for high-quality photos and documents, and the 17c per A4 page is reasonable in this company, although not the cheapest.
The MX860 prints automatically on both sides of the paper, connects via USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and offers full fax capability with a 250-page memory and 100 speed dials. Brother's A3 printing and scanning is the only rival feature the Canon Pixma MX860 can't match this month.
The comprehensive control panel and the 2.5in LCD, while not as large as others, make altering settings simple, and we soon had prints whizzing out at rapid rates.
Normal mono text came out at 8.1ppm and colour at 3.4ppm, but it's photo printing that really accelerates: a 6 x 4in shot took 1min 26secs, while that rose to just over three minutes for A4 - a time only matched by the HP 8500 among the business printers. The scanner and copier were equally quick, again up there with the HP and the lightning-fast Epson scans.
The resulting scans were sharp and accurate, only bettered by the HP, but none of the competition could compete with the Canon's print and copy quality.
Its pigmented ink contributed to text that was thick, black and totally sharp in both normal and draft quality modes, while photos had good contrast, plenty of detail in dark areas and a punch that only the Brother could come close to.
The HP 8500 might appeal for more document-based offices, while the Brother's A3 mode brings a different dimension to photo printing. But for all-round performance there's only one choice this month, and it's Canon again.