Canon's PIXMA MP980 multifunction is a refresh of its predecessor, the PIXMA MP970. This model adds an automatic document feeder, but slower print speeds and lower capacity ink cartridges ultimately make it an uninspiring product.
Some design elements have changed from the MP970, but there is nothing drastically different about the new model. It retains the same silver and black two-tone design of other PIXMA multifunctions, though the MP980 is noticeably boxier.
Gaining access to the ink cartridges is harder than with previous PIXMA multifunctions. This is somewhat understandable due to the weight of the unit's upper half, but the inner cover's hinges lack the smoothness that made past PIXMA units easier to deal with. We were similarly disappointed with the rear tray; though the mechanism is unlikely to break during regular use, it simply doesn't feel as comfortable to use as other Canon home multifunctions.
The unit offers Ethernet connectivity and automatic duplexing, on top of staples such as CD/DVD printing and film negative/35mm slide scanning. The MP980 also offers direct printing options, with a media card reader that supports MemoryStick, SD and CompactFlash, as well as a PictBridge-capable USB port. These features seem a little bland compared to the integrated Wi-Fi and touch-screen panels found on competing multifunctions.
Speed is the MP980's biggest problem. Our tests showed the unit was capable of printing mono text documents at an average of 13.8 pages per minute, with the first page out in 10.1 seconds. Normal documents printed at 9.6ppm. Documents with colour graphical elements printed even more slowly, at 7.8ppm in draft quality and at an abysmal 3.2ppm in normal quality. Though these speeds don't depart drastically from the PIXMA MP970 the MP980 still falls far behind similarly priced competitors.
Surprisingly, we didn't find these problems when printing photos; standard 4x6in photos print in 19.1sec and A4 photos in 59.1sec.
The quality of printed text is acceptable, but it doesn't possess the character accuracy of the cheaper PIXMA MP630. Colour accuracy and vibrancy met our expectations, but photos suffer from banding — until now this hasn't been a problem with Canon printers.
Thankfully, scanning is a strong point of the MP980. The unit boasts a maximum scan resolution of 4800x9600dpi and the unit can be used to scan 35mm slides and film negatives. Quality is superb, with great colour accuracy and unrivalled detail. The unit doesn't show any bias in terms of brightness and contrast, and produces an accurate and balanced representation of the source image. For digitising traditional film and slides, as well as standard document scanning, the unit does a great job.
The MP980 is quite expensive in the long term, costing the user an average of 22c per page. The cartridges themselves are also of a lower capacity than those previously used on PIXMA printers, so users should expect to change cartridges more frequently.
The PIXMA MP980 offers decent features for photo enthusiasts and home offices, but slow print speeds and print quality issues make it a poor addition to the Canon range.