Sunday, September 20, 2015

Canon PIXMA MG3520 Printer Review-ish

Picked a Canon MG3520 inkjet printer up recently because my almost decade old base-model Canon PIXMA was out of ink. I got that guy for about CA$ 50 way back when. New ink cartridges would have set me back about $25 for black and probably $35 for color. There was a sale on with the MG3520 at CA$ 40 so it just made sense to get a newer model that was also an all-in-one with wifi -- old printer only printed and only had a USB connection option.

Why I bought this?
As I outlined above, price was the main reason I bought the Canon PIXMA MG3520. Why not a different model around the same price range though? Because this was the absolute cheapest one I found and the only other model I was interested in was $20 more at the store -- there was one for $10 more but it wasn't in stock.

Also, the wireless connection option, ability to copy, scan, and print were nice. One of the main reasons I hated using my old printer was that I never kept it plugged in through USB when I wasn't using it which was 99% of the year.

Availability of ink and longer-term support were also concerns. I've always been able to find Canon ink cartridges with relative ease -- they've been the only ones I've ever looked for though. Canon also appears to be a company that should be around for a while so I shouldn't have to worry about finding support or ink over the longer-term. Ink prices appeared reasonable. The "regular" sized black ink cartridge appeared to be about CA$ 25 and the color was around CA$ 35. That seemed pretty normal in my experience.

P.S. I only paid CA$ 30 since I had a gift certificate.

Canon PIXMA MG3520 with Lid Open

Canon PIXMA MG3520 Printer Close-up

Setup and Installation

This was sort of a rush-purchase because I needed to print something off urgently. Instead of shipping it, I decided to carry it home on something like a 2 mile walk. My arms couldn't lift a fork by the time I got home. At least I saved $3 for public transportation. What does that have to do with setup and installation? Nothing, but I like to talk about my strokes of genius.

The day after it arrived at home, since my arms were broken, I set the printer up. Unpacking was fairly simple. There were two pieces of foam suspending the printer in the box. The only "accessories" I can remember were a CD, the electrical cord, and two ink cartridges. There was also some literature including a setup guide -- it seemed to focus on the bare basics though.

USB Connection
I skipped the CD and went to download the latest drivers from the website, but I ended up inserting the CD to see what was provided anyway. The first time I set it up, I connected my laptop to the printer using a USB cable from my old printer and chose the USB-only connection option. That went flawlessly, I was done within 10 or 20 minutes.

Wireless Connection
Wireless connectivity was the ultimate goal and I thought there would be an option to set it up from the printer properties after USB-only installation. I tried looking for this item and didn't find anything... Two hours later and the printer was finally set up properly with wifi.

What happened during these two hours?

I reran the setup program over and over again trying to reinstall the driver by using the wireless option that didn't involve a WPS button. Every time, it said it couldn't find the printer on my network. An hour into this, something started to bug me: how could the printer possibly connect to my network without me manually entering the SSID and password? Was it trying to pull it from my laptop?

It turned out there was an option to manually enter in my SSID and password with a USB cable connected. I was ignoring it because I completely misread the description -- thought it was a fail-safe to permanently use a USB cable. One hiccup later involving a checkbox I never noticed before and some Googling, my printer was fully set up. Total setup time should have been around 30 minutes from unboxing to printing stuff. Over two hours for me -- some of it filled with rage.
Canon PIXMA MG3520 Buttons
So Far So Good?
In terms of overall design and size, I was satisfied. The entire unit wasn't huge but it wasn't really small. Its footprint was fairly large. Printers are disposable items to me and the simpler the better -- learned this from over a decade working in offices, always dealing with broken down, very expensive copier machines. The MG3520 I got appeared to be reasonably simple with no feeder tray for the scanner and a pretty simple paper supply tray. Less to break or malfunction?

It's been in my possession for a few days. I've so far tested single-sided printing and scanning from my laptop using a wireless connection. They worked and I was very happy because I didn't have to mess with any advanced settings. My old camera had a wireless file transfer option that only seemed to work when my firewall was disabled -- gave up on that very quickly due to the security risk.

Copying the printed page in black and white also worked. Both printing and scanning speeds were on the slower side. The scanning speed was on the excruciating side after getting so used to commercial-grade multi-function copiers at work. For $30 though? I'll put up with this thing.

Canon PIXMA MG3520 Rear Panel
The Canon PIXMA MG3520 does everything I need it to -- maybe five times a year? For CA$ 30, I'm pretty happy so far. The setup could have been -- much -- smoother and quicker if I had been more familiar with the layout of the installation program. I should remain satisfied unless the product dies on me prematurely. It really shouldn't see much use, so here's hoping to another decade-ish with this printer. This one should actually last even longer since I don't need it for college or school anymore.

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