The Canon Color imageClass MF8580Cdw, a color MFP (multifunction printer) for workgroups and small offices, is reasonably fast and has solid output quality, including above-par graphics. It's worth a gander by small offices looking for a color workgroup MFP.
The MF8580Cdw is a four-function MFP that prints, copies, scans, and faxes. The off-white and black machine measures 17 by 19.1 by 18.9 (HWD) inches and weighs 68 pounds with cartridges in place. Its front panel includes a seven-line non-touch color LCD, an alphanumeric keypad, several control buttons including one for secure printing and two dedicated scan buttons for scanning to two PCs. Below the front panel is a front-facing port for a USB thumb drive.
A 50-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) lets users copy, scan, or fax both sides of multipage documents. A 250-sheet main paper tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose feeder are standard, as well as an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. The MF8580Cdw has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 40,000 pages.
The MF8580Cdw offers Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB connectivity. It has Canon's host-based UFR II driver as well as PCL drivers but no PostScript driver. I tested it over an Ethernet connection with drivers installed on a PC running Windows Vista.
Like many recent Canon laser printers, and those of several other vendors now as well, Canon ships the MF8580Cdw with duplex (two-sided) printing as the default printing mode. Duplex printing saves paper, and it's easy enough to switch to one-sided or simplex printing when needed. We do our business printing speed tests using default settings, as in our experience users tend to stick to them. As the paper has to be turned, duplex speeds are generally a bit slower than simplex (one-sided) speeds. This MFP is rated at 21 ppm for simplex printing and 10 ppm for duplex.
I timed the MF8580Cdw on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing), at an effective 4.9 pages per minute (ppm), a good time considering its rated speed. Our test suite includes text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content, while rated speeds are based only on text printing. When I switched to simplex, the MF8580cdw tested at 6.0 ppm.
The Editors' Choice Dell 2155cn, rated at 24 ppm, printed out our tests at an effective 5.9 ppm in simplex mode, while the Editors' Choice Canon Color imageClass MF8350Cdn All-in-One Printer tested at 6.3 ppm in simplex.
The MF8580Cdw's overall output quality was good, led by slightly above par graphics. Text quality was typical of a laser, which is to say good enough for any business use except ones like demanding desktop publishing applications that use very small fonts.
Photo quality was par for color lasers we've tested, good enough to print out recognizable photos from Web pages or files, and perhaps to use in client newsletters, depending on how picky you are. There was some loss of detail in brighter areas, and one image had mild banding (a regular pattern of faint striations). Some images showed dithering (graininess).
Graphics were a touch above par for a color laser. Several illustrations showed dithering. The graphics are good enough for general business uses, including PowerPoint handouts, even for distribution to people you're seeking to impress with your professionalism.
The Canon Color imageClass MF8580Cdw is a very capable color MFP with a solid feature set for small offices and workgroups. In simplex mode, it shared nearly identical print speeds with the Editors' Choice Dell 2155cn and the Editors' Choice Canon MF8350Cdn. Although the MF8580Cdw's overall output quality was strong, led by above-par graphics, it falls short of the exquisite output that we saw with the Dell 2155cn. However, the MF8580Cdw brings one thing to the table that the two Editors' Choice models don't: standard Wi-Fi connectivity.