Canon Pixma iP4200

Until recently, Canon remained silent as printer manufacturers debated over which company’s inkjet printer had the longest lasting photo prints. Epson has been claiming such longevity for its printers for a while now. But with the release of its Pixma iP4200 , and its included ChromaLife 100 ink set, Canon has entered the fray. Canon claims that, when used in concert with their branded photo papers, photos printed using ChromaLife 100 inks will last up to 100 years when stored properly. Often, print-quality problems arise when companies introduce a new ink set, but I found the Pixma iP4200’s photo prints both vibrant and accurate. However, you’ll need to ask my unborn grandchildren whether the prints really last 100 years.

Setting up the printer was very straightforward. It connects to your Mac via USB 2.0, and the five individual ink cartridges feature bright red LEDs that light up when properly installed. The cartridge lights also start blinking when ink is running low, and the blinking gets faster as the tanks get closer to empty.

The printer offers a few convenient features, the first being the ability to automatically print on both sides of a sheet of paper. It took nearly three times as long to print our 10-page Microsoft Word test in this mode compared with printing one-sided sheets, but you can save a tree or two while saving money on paper. The second nice feature is a lower paper cassette in addition to the top-loading paper tray. This makes it easy to print on different kinds of media without having to, for example, physically swap out plain paper for photo paper every time you want to print a snapshot.

There is also a PictBridge USB port on the front of the printer. This port lets owners of PictBridge-supported cameras print directly to the printer without a computer using the camera’s menus and controls.

The installation CD includes ICC (color) profiles that, though cryptically named, do help in getting accurate prints from the iP4200. For example, “Canon iP4200 PR1” is the profile to use with the iP4200’s highest-resolution settings and Canon’s Photo Paper Pro. This printer did a great job with our standard Macworld Photoshop test image, even though it took more than 10 minutes at highest resolution to finish the job. The resulting prints were very good, with colors closely matching those in our control print, though the iP4200’s print was just a tad on the red side. The printer was able to reproduce fine details and did a good job on our graphics test with color gradients and curved lines. Text was clean and very legible, even at small point sizes when printed at the highest resolution available for plain paper. I did have a bit of trouble trying to get a neutral gray out of the printer. Prints tended toward either green or blue depending on what driver settings I used.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Pixma iP4200, though it’s a little poky at high resolutions, is a great all-around inkjet printer. It can automatically print on both sides of the page, and it excels in printing both Microsoft Office documents on plain paper and high-quality, long-lasting photos on Canon’s photo papers.

timed trials

10-page Word test 1:29
22MB Photoshop image 9:16
4-page PDF 7:30

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

jury tests

Text quality Very Good
Photo quality Very Good
Graphics quality Very Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

SPECIFICATIONS

Number of ink cartridges 5
Cost to replace ink/toner cartridges $73.25 ($14.25 each for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black; pigment black, $16.25)
Connections USB 2.0, PictBridge USB port
Printer resolution 9,600 x 2,400 pixels
Special features Second paper tray

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Canon Pixma iP4200

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