22 March 2005

Canon Pixma IP4000 review: Look at the pix from my Pixma, ma!

Being in the UK for a few months having planned to only be here a few weeks, I find myself without many of the basic necessities—spa bath, home gym, radio control racing car, A3+ colour printer and so on. The last of those needs was pretty critical, so I set about finding myself a new printer. It was the usual brief—a printer which could do everything perfectly but cost next to nothing to buy or run.

Canon IP4000 CD

And there lies the rub with inkjet printers. The buy costs usually look cheap, but running costs are deceptively high, especially if you do any quality colour work such as photographs. So I looked at every printer on the UK market around the £130 pound mark, read every review, and bought the Canon IP4000 for less than £90 over the web from Pixmania in France. All the reviews said it was great at everything, but were they right?

Largely, yes. This printer is elegant, well-built, very fast (A4 page of text in 8 seconds; 6”x4” photo in less than 60 seconds), and full-featured. It duplexes, has a paper feeder and a built-in cassette, prints directly on to CDs and is absurdly quiet.

And the print quality is almost exceptional. With black text on plain paper, it is the fastest and best quality inkjet I have ever seen. With full colour photos it creates rich, saturated pictures with near photolab quality and only the merest hint of pixelation in areas of continuous colour to betray its humble pricetag. Honestly, most people will think they’re from the lab. The secret is in the 5 colour system Canon uses where there’s one black for text, and a second, richer, dye-based black to enhance dynamic range in colour prints. Compared to Epson 6-colour machines I’ve seen, it’s very nearly as good, but much cheaper and faster.

On the only printable CDs I’ve tried so far, Verbatim's fast dry disks, the images are as detailed as low-quality coated inkjet paper, and have a very slightly yellowish tinge, but the effect is fantastic. I’m now on the quest for some glossy disks to see how they look.

And according to some magazine reviews these near lab-quality prints will cost you around 29p for a 6” x 4”. That’s about 72c Australian or 50c US. Your photolab will do them for half the price and get marginally better quality, but for a convenient desktop solution for short runs, you can’t beat the IP4000. If you were to spend more money on a better inkjet, you may well end up with larger running costs as well as greater capital outlay.

Overall, for quality, value and flexibility, this little Canon is unbeatable. If you are in the market for a printer, buy one. Spending less would be a false economy as the higher running costs would take their toll fast enough. Spending more would simply be pointless if you have a photolab within a reasonable distance.
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eebahgum! said...

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