The Canon Pixma iP4700 color inkjet printer costs just $100 (as of March 29, 2010), but it offers some impressive features for the price–and reasonable ink costs. It would be a solid choice for a student or a busy family.
Performance is good. The speed in our tests was reasonable: 7.4 pages per minute for text, 3.3 ppm overall with a variety of graphics, and 1.4 ppm printing photos. Using Canon’s own glossy paper for photos, the iP4700 excelled in color accuracy and detail. A stop-action shot and a nature scene both looked pleasingly sharp and vivid. Plain paper offered more challenges: The people in our group portrait appeared excessively pink, for instance. Text pages rendered in an appealingly dark black, though with slight fuzziness around the characters and lines.
The printer’s compact profile contains some surprising features, most notably an automatic duplexer for easy two-sided printing, plus two 150-sheet input trays: a shallow, front-loading cassette for plain paper only, and a rear, vertical tray for all other kinds of media. The output tray, which unfolds from the front, holds 50 pages. Each tray is made entirely of plastic and flexes easily; the paper guides are also plastic.
While the Pixma iP4700 handles paper well, its connectivity features are limited. It has no networking–only a USB port. And even though Canon bills it as a photo printer, it offers no media slots, just a PictBridge port. The Epson WorkForce 40 supports ethernet and wireless, but it lacks both media card slots and a PictBridge port.
The iP4700’s most frustrating feature is its uncommunicative control panel–if that’s what you want to call the two mute front LEDs. When the printer status changes or an error occurs, you have to count the number of flashes of different colors in different sequences, and then consult the manual. The most obscure error code consists of a repeating sequence of nineteen flashes. (All that counting just to figure out that an unsupported USB hub is connected.)
To its credit, the Pixma iP4700 has reasonably priced inks. A full set of five inks ships with the printer. The pigment black (PGI-221) for text printing costs $14.99 and lasts 350 pages (4.3 cents per page). Each color (CLI-221) costs $12.99; cyan and yellow last 505 pages (2.6 cents per color, per page), while magenta lasts 471 pages (2.8 cents per page). A four-color page would cost about 12.2 cents. Photo black, used only with images, lasts for 665 4-by-6-inch photos, or about 2 cents per photo.
Some bargains are truly good ones. The Canon Pixma iP4700 inkjet printer has a few limitations, but it is inexpensive to buy and to run. Its paper handling can accommodate dozens of pages a day, enough for a home or school user.
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