The first thing to make clear about the £225 Canon imageClass MF4890dw mono laser MFP is that it’s essentially identical to the imageClass MF4880dw, except for one major addition. This model has an automatic document feeder (ADF) that can duplex, meaning it can turn pages over to scan both sides. For anyone who has to deal with scanning, copying, or faxing duplex documents, this can save loads of time. Canon only produces the MF4880dw in the US, however, so for UK customers, the MF4890dw is your only choice (as shipping from the States will mean the lesser MF4880dw costs more, anyway).
The duplexing ADF also offers a somewhat higher paper capacity than the MF4880dw's ADF, at 50 sheets rather than 35. The MF4890dw is a good choice for either sharing on a network in a micro or small office, or for use as a heavy-duty personal printer. It allows you to connect to either a wired or Wi-Fi network, but limits its Wi-Fi capability to infrastructure mode only, which means you can only connect to a network with an access point.
Basic MFP features include the ability to print and fax from as well as scan to a PC, including over a network, plus the ability to work as a standalone copier and fax machine. When it comes to printing, paper handling is suitable for most small offices with light to medium-duty print needs, with one 250-sheet tray, a manual feed, and an automatic print duplexer.
Very much worth mentioning is the fact that the combination of a duplexing ADF and duplexing printer lets you copy both single and double-sided originals to your choice of single or double-sided copies.
Setup and speed
Setting up the MF4890dw is typical for a small office mono laser MFP. Given its size, at roughly 390 x 430 x 360mm (WxDxH), you probably won't want the printer sitting on your desk, but you should be able to find room for it even in a small office without too much trouble. For my tests I connected it to a network using the Ethernet port and installed the drivers on a Windows Vista system.
The default setting for the MF4890dw driver is for duplex printing, which is the setting I used for our official tests. However, there's a significant difference between Canon's ratings for the printer in duplex and simplex (one-sided) modes, at 16 pages per minute (ppm) for duplex and 26 ppm for simplex, so I tested both.
The rated speeds should be close to what you'll see when printing a text file with little formatting. On our tests, I timed the printer (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at 9.6 ppm in duplex mode and 12.2 ppm in simplex mode. Not surprisingly, both modes were essentially tied with the performance of the MF4880dw.
A better indication of the speed relative to the competition, however, is that even in duplex mode, the MF4890dw was essentially tied with the slightly more expensive OKI MB451w, even though the MB451w was set for simplex mode as the default setting.
Output quality for the MF4890dw is more than acceptable for most business uses, with text at the high end of the range that includes most mono laser MFPs. Both graphics and photo output are at the low end of the equivalent, but much tighter, ranges for graphics and photo quality.
For text, that translates to the output being suitable by most people's standards for any business use short of high quality desktop publishing. Graphics output is a step down from that level, suitable for any internal business needs, but only potentially good enough for PowerPoint hand-outs or the like, depending on how demanding an eye you have.
Photo quality is easily good enough to print web pages with recognisable photos, but only potentially good enough for newsletters or the like, depending once again on the quality level you insist on.
Much like the US-only Canon MF4880dw, the MF4890dw delivers a well-balanced set of features. The bonus here is that the MF4890dw also offers a duplexing ADF, so you can scan, copy, or fax duplex documents. This effort from Canon is a fast performer which produces decent quality results, and it’s well worth the asking price.
Manufacturer and Product
Canon imageClass MF4890dw
Laser, Copier, Fax
Direct Printing from Cameras
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)
Colour or Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only)
USB, Ethernet, Wireless