We'll end this overview of new printers with a look at the additional functions some of them have. The most significant group of functions is that related to printing without using the PC. HP paved the way a few years ago by including the first slots for memory cards on its Photosmart models. The memory slots are now found also on the Stylus Photo R300, but not on the models from Canon and Lexmark. Canon has chosen instead to use PictBridge technology to link a digital camera directly to its printer. It's a less practical solution than the memory slot, and worse yet, a slower one - the PictBridge link uses the older USB 1.1. Only the Stylus C66 Photo Edition and the Lexmark Z816 lack any method of printing without a PC.
There are also other functions provided by drivers, with each manufacturer having its own innovations. Canon, unfortunately, has done away with the automatic paper-type recognition function found on its previous line, but the function is present on the Lexmark Z816, and works well. HP, for its part, offers a clever function that automatically prints documents of more than one page beginning with the last page, which avoids having to re-order the pages after printing. Lexmark also has this function as an option in its driver. Canon's driver includes numerous very effective maintenance functions, and special effects that can be applied directly to the printer output.
The conclusion is the same as usual. When it comes to inkjet printers, models with separate color cartridges are more attractive in every respect: they're more economical to use, and also offer the best print quality. Epson's Stylus Photo R300 leads the pack in the area of quality, followed very closely by the Canon Pixma iP4000 and iP5000. While the Photosmart 8150 offers very good qualitative results, the cost of its cartridges make it a much less attractive choice.
Of the models costing $79 or $99, Canon still comes out on top. With quality that matches the Stylus C66 Photo Edition, the Lexmark Z816, and the HP Photosmart 7450, it is far more economical and better-performing, even if it is a little less multi-purpose. Finally, Lexmark comes out on the bottom of this comparison. Available to the market before the others, the Z816 already seems to be a generation behind, and its innovation - mixing solid and water-based inks - is not convincing. Let's hope for the manufacturer's sake that its next models will do better.