Canon Pixma iP4000
At a Glance
The Canon Pixma iP4000 will be at home in any small office where people need to print high-quality photos as well as text documents. It does a good job on glossy, borderless photo prints, and it has a few paper handling features that typical photo printers lack. You get a lot of printer for the $200 price.
If you switch often among several types of paper, you'll find the iP4000's two paper trays handy. The cassette in the printer's base holds 150 sheets of your favorite paper. Paper you change more often, such as different sizes of photo paper, should go into the upright sheet feeder at the back of the printer. The sheet feeder accepts up to 150 sheets of letter-size paper or up to 20 sheets of 4-by-6-inch photo paper. A switch on the front of the printer lets you select the default paper source, or you can choose between them from the driver.
The iP4000's duplexer lets you print on both sides of the paper. When not in use, the output tray folds up onto the front of the printer, giving the whole package a neat and professional look.
Each of the iP4000's inks come in individual cartridges. In addition to the three regular colors, there are two black inks--one for solid, dark text, and the other for photos.
Despite these promising features for office use, we were somewhat disappointed with the iP4000's plain-paper printing. In our lab tests, text printed on the iP4000 looked nicely sharp, and even the smallest font sizes were readable. The few faults we noticed included some letters with slightly fuzzy edges and some bold, blocky characters that bled into each other. But the iP4000 stumbled on our line-art test, failing to reproduce vertical lines longer than 0.5 inch without wobbling, and generating a strange diagonal pattern in a block of close horizontal lines. The darkest areas of color graphics that we printed on plain paper changed abruptly to heavy black, obscuring all detail and unattractively contrasting with the overall washed-out look of the rest of the image.
On photo paper, the printer managed good color accuracy, nice detail in shadows, and plenty of contrast. Our grayscale image looked superb, with smooth tonal changes, no color cast, and crisp detail.
The iP4000 printed text at a speedy 6.8 pages per minute, and graphics at a commendable 2.5 ppm. Both times rank as the second-best we saw from any of the printers in our December 2004 test group.
A PictBridge-compatible USB port on the front lets you print directly from a compatible digital camera. The iP4000 has no media card slots, so you must connect it to your computer via its parallel port or through a USB 1.1 port on the back. The software installed effortlessly, and we were soon up and running.
In addition to supplying a capable printer driver, Canon provides its own Easy-PhotoPrint application (for printing individual photos), PhotoRecord (for combining photos into album sheets), and Easy-WebPrint (for printing Web pages). The printer comes with a handy setup poster and a printed quick-start guide. The more detailed user's guide gets installed as HTML pages along with the software. This guide contains plenty of diagrams, but many of the screen shots are too small to read easily, and the pages aren't easy to resize, as they would be if the document were a PDF.
This versatile unit is a good combination printer for office documents and high-quality photos, as long as you don't mind less-than-perfect plain paper output.