Canon Pixma iP4200
At a Glance
The Canon Pixma iP4200 prints high-quality glossy photos quickly, but it's just as well suited for printing office documents. For $130, you get strong black text, double-sided printing, and dual paper trays. In our tests the iP4200 printed documents at breakneck speed, but the quality of its plain-paper output barely improved on that of its predecessor, the iP4000.
The iP4200's silver plastic case feels solid and looks less boxy than other recent Canon models. A direct-print port lets you print straight from a PictBridge-compatible digital camera, though--like most other inkjets these days--the iP4200 doesn't have a media card slot.
The iP4200 posted the best overall speed numbers of the five inkjets we tested in its group. Text printed at 6.9 pages per minute--one of the fastest rates we've seen from an inkjet--And plain-paper graphics emerged at a very fast 2.5 ppm. When printed at best-quality settings, our test photo emerged in just 56 seconds.
Along with the 150-sheet-capacity paper tray in the printer's base, there is an upright feeder at the back with a equivalent capacity; it's a convenient arrangement if you frequently switch between two types of media, such as plain paper and photo paper, or between different sizes of photo stock. A switch on the front lets you choose the default paper source, or you can select which one to use from the software driver. The built-in duplexer lets you create double-sided prints, but you'll be sacrificing speed for paper economy: The iP4200 waits about 15 seconds for the first side to dry before sucking it back in to print the other side.
This model's print engine resembles its predecessor's, relying on five inks from individual cartridges. You get dye-based ink for the regular colors and for the black used in photos. The pigment-based black ink used for plain paper documents comes in a larger (and more economical) cartridge.
In our print quality tests, color photos exhibited sharp details, even in areas of shadow, with plenty of contrast. Skin tones, however, appeared a little too vivid and had an orange cast. Our grayscale photo printed a little on the dark side, but showed good contrast and sharp details overall; skin tones in this print could have looked smoother.
Because it's a printer with office-oriented features, we expected the iP4000 to produce top-notch print quality on plain paper, but it fell a little short of this. Though text appeared dark and solid, we noticed misaligned letters in rows generated from multiple sweeps of the print head. Similarly, vertical lines wavered in our line art test, and we also noticed some strange diagonal patterns in blocks of close horizontal lines. In color graphics printed on plain paper, the posterization looked very similar to what the $50 Canon Pixma iP1600 printed.
The Pixma iP4200 delivers high-quality photos, snappy print speeds, and useful office features, but print quality on plain paper could be better.