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Printing Speed

Canon, HP's Xmas Ink-Jet Printer Fleet
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In terms of performance, the Pixma iP4200 did a little better than the iP4000, but it's still in the same ballpark. It took a little over three minutes to produce an A4 photo at highest quality, which was an excellent time a year ago, and is still quite good today. In text mode with draft quality, the results were a little disappointing. At 9.1 pages per minute, it was the slowest of the four printers tested in this article. And what's more, keep in mind that HP's printers have the added advantage of offering exceptional print quality in draft mode.

Print Quality

The major difference compared to last year's Pixma iP4000 is that the Pixma iP4200 now has nozzles capable of producing droplets as small as 1 picoliter, which makes it capable of a resolution of 9,600 x 4,800 dpi. The difference between the two is fairly slight, however. Note that as usual, Canon doesn't use light cyan and light magenta photo inks like HP, Epson, and Lexmark. To improve photo quality, Canon uses an additional black ink intended to improve contrast. It seems to work very well, especially for shading. We did notice a slight overall darkening of the images, but that can be corrected by tweaking the driver.

Cost Per Page

The cost per page, as is often the case with Canon products, is a major strong point of the Pixma iP4200. Thanks to the use of two black cartridges, including one with high capacity, and the very low price of the cartridges, we calculated a cost per page of text with 5% coverage of only 1 cent. Even monochrome laser printers have a hard time matching that. For color printing, the cost worked out to 29 cents on standard 4" x 6" photo paper, or about the cost of a photo printed with a dedicated 4" x 6" printer. But that cost can increase significantly depending on the quality of the paper - the top-of-the-line Canon option, the PR-101, almost doubles the cost.

Conclusion

With the Pixma iP4200, Canon hasn't revolutionized its printer line; but then, Canon probably didn't need to. Its base cost - calculated on the basis of purchase price and cartridge life - makes it the best choice for people who print in fairly large volumes and who want a multi-use product. On the other hand, the lack of automatic paper detection and an LCD display are handicaps in today's consumer market.

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