Entry-Level Printer: Canon i320


Frankly, after reading Canon`s description of its new printer, you wonder why anyone would ever buy a printer that costs more than the i320! On paper, at least, it claims to be able to "print professional quality documents and photographs at 2400 x 1200 dpi, with a high printing speed of 10 ppm ." Furthermore, "this printer is also equipped with a full speed USB 2.0 interface ."

Hey, marketing guys, you sure have a way with words!

As far as standard print quality is concerned, this is indeed good. As for photos, however, you'd better print them only occasionally. Photographic paper doesn't come cheap, the inks are expensive, and the ink droplets are visible.

As for speed, true, the i320 is fast, but let's not exaggerate. At standard resolution, it runs at around six pages per minute.

But wait, as the saying goes, we've saved the best for last. The i320 is "a full-speed USB 2.0." Oh yeah? If you think that because your PC is USB 2 compatible, the i320 will work faster, you'd be wrong. Let's not confuse USB 2 full speed printers with USB 2 high speed printers. The manufacturers are happy to maintain this confusion, of course, but only high speed printers can take advantage of the fast new 480 Mbits/sec interface. The USB 2 full speed buffer only guarantees compatibility with the new standard. Data transfer still takes place at the same old speed as for the USB 1.1, namely 12 Mbits/sec. So, to put it bluntly, the i320 is just a USB 1.1 printer, the same as the rest.

First Impressions

The casing is certainly original, but the mechanics of the printer are not. Under the hood, the engine is very similar to that of the earlier S300 model. Print speed is almost identical, and like the S300, the i320 is incapable of printing A4 size right to the edge of the paper, without a margin. Just as with the HP, you have to settle for a 4 x 6 inch (10 x 15 cm) format without a margin.

Another fault of the i320 is that it is rather noisy. Here, the paper feed system is as guilty as the print head carriage. This is not serious in itself, but since we have tested silent printers previously (the S750, i550, etc.), we have become used to the luxury of silence and are getting picky.