Attractive Features: General-Purpose Inkjet Printers

The Printers

Canon S300

The Canon S300 does not live up to the manufacturer's reputation. Though a good deal of their marketing blurb talks about the virtues of separate ink tank cartridges, the S300 has single cartridges. As usual, there are two of them, one black and one color (cyan + magenta + yellow). This is a good idea because it means that there are fewer cartridges to handle, and they are sold at a price which claims to be bargain. $14 for color and $5.50 for black, adding up to $19.50.

But don't be deluded. The cartridges don't cost very much because they don't hold very much ink. In fact, they hold so little ink, that costs per page for the S300 are exactly twice those of the S500: $0.18 for color and $0.12 for black & white in pages filled respectively at 5% color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) in the first case, and 10% black in the second. The printer cost price calculated at 3000 pages (purchase price + 1500 pages of black + 1500 pages of color) is revealing: $552, or about twice that of the S400 it replaces.

Fortunately there are compensations to justify these results. The motor of the S300 and its head block derive from the excellent S600. With this in mind, it's not surprising that the S300 is very fast and the prints are of high quality. Word will go round that in black & white it prints as fast as the Epson C80 and that no HP or Lexmark can rival it.

The color mode doesn't give the same results, a nasty habit with Canon. Its printers have always been fast in monochrome and slow whenever there is a color cartridge. The S300 is no exception. The speed measured has no cause to envy its rivals but it is nearly three times slower than black and white.

One of the best aspects in S300 speed is actually its photo mode. 10 x 15 prints come out in 1 minute 30 seconds. By comparison, its rivals often needed four to six minutes to print our test photo (in 30 ppp at the printer's top resolution).