At a Glance
- Fast; low-priced; crisp, black text
- Has a second input tray
- Crowded design; inscrutable buttons
- Fleshtones tend to be yellowish
The Pixma iP3500 offers impressive speed, very good output, and useful features for a low price.
The Canon Pixma iP3500 inkjet printer is ambitious, squeezing a lot of printer functionality into an inexpensive package. While it falls short in some ways, it’s still a great value.
The Pixma iP3500 printed quickly and competently. Plain-text pages exited at a brisk pace of 8.3 pages per minute (ppm), while photo-printing speeds ranged from 1.6 ppm to 3.2 ppm in PC World tests, about average overall. On plain paper, even closely spaced fonts looked precise and nicely black, with just a little jaggedness in curvier letters. Most of the color images we printed exhibited a yellow to orange cast, which made them look warmer and more attractive but also produced slightly odd flesh tones. Our How We Test primer has more information on our printer tests.
At rest, the Pixma iP3500 looks like a shiny, black bread box. When it’s time to print, an array of doors, flaps, and panels reveals a versatile–if sometimes complicated–set of features. The usual top-loading input tray takes a wide range of media sizes. The two-part output tray looks like an Evel Knievel jump: Paper slides from a short tongue of plastic over a small bit of empty space toward a longer end piece. Nestled into the empty space is a second input tray that takes a few standard media sizes (A4, letter, B5); you could, for instance, load plain paper there and have the top input tray free for loading photo paper or labels. The small crowd of tongues, trays, and extensions can be confusing–it’s hard to tell where things go in or out–but the second input is still a nice bonus. The few controls (visible when the front door is open for normal operation) are scattered, and their icon-based labels are hard to decipher.
A permanent printhead and removable ink tanks for each of the four colors sit beneath the printer’s center panel. The user-friendly design has clearly visible slots for the tanks. Like the ink tanks on some other Canon inkjets, each of the Pixma iP3500’s tanks has an embedded LED that lights red when the tank is properly inserted (which seems counterintuitive–why not green?). The Pixma iP3500’s ink costs, based on documents with a mix of text and graphics, seem reasonable: Black ink costs about 3.2 cents per page, and adding cyan, magenta, and yellow brings the cost to 8.9 cents per page.
The installation includes Easy Photo-Print EX software for organizing, editing, and printing photos, plus Canon’s My Printer application for adjusting settings and troubleshooting. A thorough on-screen manual covers both hardware and software. A Solutions Menu interface centralizes access to all of these items.
The Canon Pixma iP3500 hits the sweet spot among inkjet printers, offering a fair number of features and performance for the price. It’s one of the better low-cost printers we’ve seen.