The Pixma MP810 is a behemoth of a printer. It stands more than 18 inches wide, 16.5 inches deep, and 9 inches tall--make sure you have the desk space. The 2006 aesthetic for the Pixma printers is dominated by a buffed silver plastic with glossy black highlight panels. As on the Pixma MP800, the scanner lid opens to reveal an A4-size flatbed scanner. On the inside of the lid, behind the platen protector, you'll find the slide/negative scanner, as well as sleeves for holding slides and negatives. The lid detaches entirely for scanning thick books.
The big change in this iteration is the design and location of the control panel. The panel is embedded in the scanner lid, under a cover that flips up. The 3-inch preview LCD is set into the underside of the cover and is half an inch smaller than the LCD on the Pixma MP800. It's a bit disappointing that you get a smaller LCD for the same price, but 3 inches is still very generous, and the images look great on the screen. Instead of having task buttons for toggling between scan, copy, and print tasks, the Pixma MP810 employs a scrollwheel design for navigating menus. The various tasks and the settings menu are laid out in a ring on the LCD, and turning the scrollwheel turns the menu ring. Two soft keys let you select options on the screen as well. The scrollwheel menu is well designed and intuitive to navigate. It's helpful to be able to see all of your top-menu options on one screen.
The control panel aside, the Pixma MP810 offers a lot of the same features offered by the Pixma MP800: two input sources (cassette and auto sheet feeder); built-in memory card slots; a PictBridge port; and an IrDA port. It's not network ready, but you can easily network it using a router with a built-in print server or a stand-alone print server. (If you need a network-ready printer, the Canon Pixma MP800R offers both wired and wireless networking, for an additional $100.) The features offered are standard for a photo-centric all-in-one in this price category.
The Canon Pixma MP810 employs a five-ink system, with separate tanks for each ink. In addition to the cyan, magenta, and yellow tanks are a dye-based black and a pigment-based black. The dye-based tanks cost $14.25 to replace, while the pigment-based black tank costs $16.25. Canon estimates cost-per-page to be about 29 cents for a 4x6 photo and about 3 cents for a color graphics print. Both numbers are good for an inkjet all-in-one.
The Pixma MP810 offers pretty much the same feature set as the MP800. The lack of fax capability marks this device as photo-centric. If you need the fax feature, check out the HP Photosmart C7180. When printing photos, you have the option of PC-free printing, via the IrDA port, the memory card slots, or the PictBridge port. One feature this printer is missing is the ability to use the PictBridge port to connect a USB storage device such as a flash thumbdrive, a feature that's fairly common on photo-centric printers, such as the HP Photosmart D7360. Most such printers let you print images off a USB drive, but some even let you push files back and forth between a memory card and the USB drive.
When printing off a memory card, the MP810 offers the usual range of options for a Canon printer. You can print all the photos or select just a few. To make selections, you can click through the contents of your card one at a time, changing the number of copies and making adjustments along the way. To get through your card quicker, you can use the thumbnail view, or alternately, if you want to check out details in the image, you can opt for the full-screen or enlarged view. Finally, you can print a photo index (all or by date range) that allows you to bubble in the images you want printed, request some minor adjustments, such as red-eye correction and face brightener, and input the paper size and type. To print the desired photos, simply scan the index using the printer's flatbed scanner, and the printer will take care of the rest. If you need to reprint photos, just choose the Easy Photo Reprint option from the main menu, scan in up to two 4x6 or 5x7 photos (leaving space between), and the printer will output copies of your originals.
Using the Advanced photo menu, you can also make adjustments to the images and the layouts, including cropping, rotating, making sticker prints, or creating a multiphoto layout. If your image needs some improvements, you can opt to reduce red-eye, turn on vivid photo or the photo optimization features, reduce noise, or brighten faces. If you want more granular control, you can also manually adjust brightness, contrast, and color hue.