Pixma mini320 compact printer

The Canon Pixma mini320 is a compact photo printer featuring a special scroll wheel that makes printing photos an easy, smooth experience. Equipped with a carrying handle and a bright LCD screen, the mini320 is very similar in appearance to its predecessor, the Canon Pixma mini260 (   ). Unfortunately, the mini320 is not much of an improvement over its predecessor. Still missing is the option to print in black and white. And while the mini320’s print quality is very pleasing, faint scratches still appear on prints, presumably from the printer’s roller—an issue I also found in the mini260. As it is, the mini320 is an impressive device, but the lack of improvement over the previous model is disappointing.

The mini320 sports an attractive white and silver casing, reminiscent of the iPod. Selecting and editing photos is easy using the mini320’s scroll wheel. However, after you apply your edits, the printer doesn’t offer you the option to preview your edited image before printing it. The lack of a preview mode means you’ll likely be using a lot of ink to get your photo to look just right. That’s irritating.

You can connect the mini320 to your Mac, but that would somewhat defeat the purpose of purchasing a compact photo printer. I recommend printing photos straight from your memory card. The mini320 supports a wide range of memory cards, including Secure Digital cards, MultiMediaCard, CompactFlash, Microdrive, Memory Stick, and others. If your photo card isn’t supported, you’ll either have to connect your camera directly to the printer via USB or purchase a card adapter.

For $30, Canon offers a combination pack containing 100 sheets of Photo Paper Glossy and one ink cartridge, making the cost per print 30 cents. Last year, Canon offered the same combination pack for the mini260, but for $28, meaning that the cost per print went up 2 cents. This may seem like an insignificant increase, but at 30 cents per print, the mini320 is the most expensive to use of all the compact photo printers I reviewed.

The mini320 is capable of printing photos as large as 5 by 7 inches. You’ll probably be printing standard 4-by-6 inch photos most often with the mini320, but printing on larger sizes could come in handy when printing more scenic photos.

The mini320’s print quality is impressive: colors appear accurate, with excellent shadow detail. But under bright light, I could see very faint scratches on photos printed with the mini320. These scratches are negligible, but I’m surprised Canon didn’t rectify this issue since it was found on the mini260.

As for speed, the mini320 turned in average results. The printer took 1 minute and 17 seconds to print a single 4-by-6 inch photo. By way of comparison, our Top Product in the compact photo printer category, the Epson PictureMate Zoom, took 42 seconds to complete the same task.

jury tests

Color photo quality Very Good
Black-and-white photo quality N/A

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

timed trials

4-by-6-inch photo 1:17
Five 4-by-6-inch photos 6:56

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How we tested: We printed all test files from a SanDisk CompactFlash card inserted in the printer. We recorded the time it took to print a 4-by-6-inch photo and the time it took to print five 4-by-6-inch photos. A panel of experts examined samples of the printer’s output to rate its print quality as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor in comparison to the output of past compact photo printers we’ve tested.—Macworld Lab testing by Brian Chen

specifications

Number of inks Three inks, one cartridge
Cost per 4-by-6-inch print 30 cents (glossy combo pack costs $30 and yields 100 prints)
Memory cards Secure Digital card, SDHC, MultiMediaCard, CompactFlash, Microdrive, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro
Connections USB, PictBridge
Printer resolution 9,600 x 2,400 dpi
Special features Scroll wheel; handle

Macworld’s buying advice

Though the mini320’s prints are attractive and the scroll-wheel interface is fun to use, the printer isn’t a very wise investment given its increased cost per print. Pitted against the PictureMate Zoom, which prints superior photos at faster speeds for a cheaper price per print, the mini320 almost doesn’t stand a chance.

[ Brian Chen is Macworld ’s assistant editor. ]

Canon Pixma mini320

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