Canon Pixma TS3450 review: An affordable multifunction printer ideal for occasional users
The Canon Pixma TS3450 looks like an absolute steal. For less than £50 it promises a full suite of functions, including printing, scanning and copying. Considering reasonably priced multifunction printers regularly cost in excess of £100, that’s a significant saving.
It should also leave any savvy consumer with one burning question: what has Canon sacrificed in the name of keeping costs low? We’ll explore the answer to that in our review below, but expect to be impressed. Clearly, you’re not going to get the best printer in the world for this kind of money, but our worst fears of ridiculously high printing costs and very low-quality prints were mostly allayed.
Canon Pixma TS3450 review: What do you get for the money?
The Canon Pixma TS3450 is slightly wider than the most compact MFPs because it has its control buttons and screen on the top of the unit, on a panel to the left of the scanner glass. The printer measures 435 x 327 x 145mm and weighs 4kg.
The screen is a simplistic mono affair that doesn’t even offer a text menu, so there are 10 buttons to engage the device’s functions directly and a few LED lights to provide further, at-a-glance information on the printer’s status.
As you might expect for the price, the Canon Pixma TS3450 is light on even basic features. It only has one place for storing paper before printing, the slot at the rear, which means your paper will always be exposed to dust and isn’t neatly tucked away when not in use.
When printing, paper is fed through the machine from the back on a fairly flat path, with no mechanism for flipping the sheet and printing on the other side. You can still print on both sides, but you have to print one side of an entire document, then feed it back into the tray upside down and blank side up, for it to print on the other side.
It comes with two cartridges in the box, one mono and the other a mixed colour cartridge containing cyan, magenta and yellow ink. These are standard-capacity cartridges that come with enough ink to print around 180 mono pages and 180 colour pages. When it comes to refills, you can also buy XL cartridges that contain more ink – enough for 400 mono and 300 colour pages – and are better value.
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Canon Pixma TS3450 review: Is it easy to use?
Setting up the Canon Pixma TS3450 proved to be a doddle. The instruction booklet encourages you to go straight to Canon’s getting started website, which provides a guided tour through everything from removing the packaging to plugging it in.
I installed it on a Windows PC and it used the computer’s Wi-Fi settings to connect the printer to my network with barely any requirement for interaction.
To connect other devices wirelessly, whether they’re mobile devices or further computers, you use the same website. It detects the type of device you’re using and guides you to the appropriate software and driver downloads. On a smartphone, for example, you’re encouraged to download the Canon Print app, which lets you print photos and documents from your device, initiate scans or copies, or take a copy using your phone’s camera instead of the scanner.
Controls on the device itself are as minimal as you can get on a multifunction device. There are buttons to make either a colour or mono copy from the scanner bed, a button to cycle through a selection of paper sizes, and some others for adjusting the Wi-Fi settings. There’s no menu in the traditional sense, however, so any further configuration is best done through a connected device.
Having said that, it is possible to use the printer to print test pages and perform the automated print head alignment. To do this you have to refer to the manual, as each option has a numerical code. You press the settings button a number of times until the correct number comes up, then press one of the copy buttons to initiate the function. It’s fiddly, but shouldn’t be something you need to do regularly.
Canon Pixma TS3450 review: How fast is it and how much does it cost to run?
I wouldn’t expect a printer of this price to be setting any print speed records, and the Canon Pixma TS3450 doesn’t have any surprises up its sleeves in this regard. Compared with other affordable printers we’ve reviewed it’s about as slow as it gets, although even among this crowd you have to take into consideration that it’s also the cheapest by a significant margin.
For starters, it’s a bit slow to get going, taking 14 seconds to produce the first page of a multiple page mono test print. It’s not way out of sync with rivals, with Epson’s cheapest ink tank model, the EcoTank ET-1810 (£160), taking the same length of time. However, it’s a second slower than the HP Envy Inspire 7220e (£120) and four seconds behind the Brother DCP-J1200W (£106) in the same test.
Things slow down considerably when printing more pages. In our tests the TS3450 reached print speeds of 7.2ppm when printing mono and 1.6ppm in colour. The Brother DCP-J1200W is around twice as fast when printing the same test.
It perks up when it comes to photo printing, however. It took the TS3450 6mins 16secs to produce six 10 x 15cm photos, which is faster than all the others I’ve selected to compare against here. In a complete reversal of fortune, the Brother DCP-J1200W takes around twice as long, while even the second fastest HP Envy Inspire 7220e is well over three minutes slower.
When it comes to the cost of printing, I would expect a cartridge printer to be more expensive than an ink tank printer such as the Epson EcoTank ET-1810. However, print costs aren’t too bad as long as you buy the more expensive XL cartridges.
A cost of 5p per mono page and 7p per colour page (as calculated by Canon using the ISO 24712 standard) is pricier than the Brother DCP-J1200W at 3p and 6.2p respectively, but it’s still better value than the HP Envy Inspire 7220e (6p and 9.9p), particularly when printing in colour.
Note, however, that these figures equate to an ideal world where all the inks in the colour cartridge empty at the same time. In reality, with a three-in-one colour cartridge like the one required for this Canon there’s undoubtedly going to be some wastage, as you’re bound to need to replace one colour before the others have been completely used up.
If you don’t print very often, it’s also worth taking a longer-term view and including the price of the printer in your reckoning. To get the Epson EcoTank ET-1810’s ink tank print costs of 0.2p per mono page, for example, you need to pay £180 up front for the printer where the Canon Pixma TS3450 only costs £50 – a saving of £130. At 5p per mono print, that means you can print 2,600 pages before you really need to start considering whether your printing is expensive. If you don’t use your printer very often, that could be quite some time.
Canon Pixma TS3450 review: What’s print quality like?
Again, with a price of less than £50, we weren’t unpacking the Canon Pixma TS3450 with the expectation that it was going to print perfectly. This showed up immediately in our black text print. Compared with its main rivals, you can immediately spot that it isn’t as sharp as the Brother and HP models. Under magnification, text on plain paper isn’t quite as ragged as it is on the Epson EcoTank ET-1810 but it’s definitely not as neat and crisp as the Brother and HP.
The print quality in our colourful mixed graphics and text document was a game of two halves. The colours proved to be bright and rich on the whole, although a black background wasn’t printed as densely as I’d like. More disappointing was the appearance of light banding in blocks of solid colour, which didn’t disappear even after using the automatic head alignment process. To be fair, however, I haven’t tested a printer for less than £200 that doesn’t have some foible or another in this department.
Photo printing follows a similar pattern with rich, bright colours, and I found black backgrounds had a slight red tint to them but otherwise looked decent. It’s better at bold colours than the other printers but it’s a bit heavy-handed when tackling subtler shades. It printed a gloriously vivid bowl of fruit, for example, but a stock photo of a pale-skinned model gave her an overly blushed tint. The banding problems disappear in the highest-quality print settings.
Canon Pixma TS3450 review: Should you buy it?
For £50, the Canon Pixma TS3450 is an absolute bargain. It might not stand up to the print quality you’d expect from something costing significantly more, but it punches well above its weight considering it sits right at the bottom of the price scale.
However, if you can spend a little more, it’s worth looking elsewhere. The Brother DCP-J1200W isn’t quite as rich when it comes to colour printing but it’s a great multifunction printer for general office tasks, particularly when it comes to churning out documents at speed. Its mono printing is sharper, and it costs only a little more than £100.
If you want a printer with ink tanks to keep the ongoing price of printing down, you have to spend a little more. The Epson EcoTank ET-1810 ditches the scanning and copying to keep its price below £200, but if you don’t need these things and need to print in volume, it’s a great alternative.