Canon, HP's Xmas Ink-Jet Printer Fleet


As a general rule, each fall back-to-school season coincides with the arrival en masse of new models of inkjet printers. While there are only a few players in the printer market - HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark comprise practically the entire market - each one feels obligated to bring out as many products as possible to try to cut into the competition.

Interestingly, that hasn't been the case in 2005; Only HP and Canon have made big changes in their lines. Epson has simply made a few minor changes, slightly improving already existing models - the Stylus Photo R320 instead of the Stylus Photo R300, for example - or staying with entry-level models like the Stylus Photo R220. As for Lexmark, they've concentrated on the multifunction market and have no printer-only product that can rival the latest models from Canon and HP.

That's why this roundup boils down to a duel between those two manufacturers, and we've chosen a pair of models from the midrange / top-of-the-line categories for each. For Canon, they're the Pixma iP4200 and Pixma MP5200, and for HP, the Photosmart 8050 and 8250. These products are offered at prices from $130 to $200. That might seem expensive in a market where entry-level products sometimes sell for just $50 or $60, but the choice was prompted by the promising qualities of these four models, and certain, sometimes major, technological innovations.