Canon Pixma iP2702
Canon's Pixma iP2702 inkjet printer costs just $50 and it delivers what you can reasonably expect for that price: adequacy. In our tests, its photo speed and image quality stood out. It's an otherwise humdrum package, however, with unusually pricey ink.
The iP2702 is spare but well designed. It has no control panel, only power and cancel/resume buttons. The top-mounted, vertical input tray doubles as a cover for the printer's innards and feels sturdier than most front-mounted paper trays we've seen. Duplexing is manual (PC platform only), a hassle eased by on-screen prompts; just make sure to follow the illustration instead of the somewhat confusing descriptive text. The entire top of the printer lifts to reveal the paper path and the printhead. The doors that secure the ink cartridges are keyed to eliminate confusion.
The iP2702's performance is nothing special, about what you'd expect for a $50 printer. Photo printing on Canon's own paper was the highlight, as images came out fast (1.18 pages per minute on our Mac-platform sample, 1.4 ppm on our PC-platform sample), with good to better quality. Contours on hard, basically flat surfaces (such as automobile bodies and household objects) looked smooth, but subtle details on hair and curved surfaces seemed unnatural. Colors had a washed-out or pinkish quality, especially flesh tones. Shadows got murky too fast.
As for graphics speeds, the iP2702 worked at a poky rate of 0.69 ppm for a four-page PDF on the Mac platform; results ranged from 2.5 ppm to 4.6 ppm on a variety of color and monochrome documents on the PC platform. Color quality was tolerable despite the pinkish and faded effects. For text printed on plain paper, the iP2702 managed an anemic pace of 5.6 ppm on the PC and 6.36 ppm on the Mac. The output looked charcoal rather than black, and lacked crispness around the edges.
As is typical for printers in this price range, the iP2702's ink costs are up there. The standard-size cartridges (the printer ships with a set) are dear: Black lasts 220 pages and costs $16, or 7.3 cents per page. The unified color cartridge lasts 244 pages and costs $21. A page with all four colors would cost 15.9 cents. Compared with those lofty costs, the high-yield inks are merely expensive, costing 5.5 cents per text page ($22 for a 401-page black-ink tank) and 13.2 cents per four-color page (the 349-page, unified color cartridge costs $27).
Macworld's buying advice
If you just want a cheap inkjet printer for the occasional photo or casual printout, the Pixma iP2702 can provide that basic level of service. The low initial cost will probably offset what you'll pay for ink over time. If you plan to use your printer a lot, however, you'd be better off buying a more costly model with better ink prices.