Canon Pixma iX6520

The Canon Pixma iX6520 is a wide-format inkjet printer meant for small offices wanting to produce colorful, printed marketing materials or large spreadsheets up to 13 by 19 inches.

The piano-black iX6520 weighs 16.7 pounds and, due to its tabloid-sized print capabilities, takes up a considerable amount of room when the trays are fully extended. You connect the printer to your Mac via USB 2.0. Setup includes installing a separate print head and five individual ink tanks: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and pigment black.

Replacement cartridges are $66. Based on Canon’s yield claims, 4-by-6 photos use about 24 cents worth of ink, and letter-sized documents with both graphics and text use about 13 cents worth of ink. These costs are about average compared to other inkjet printers.

Unlike most inkjet printers these days, the iX6520 offers few bells and whistles. It has no scanning or copying support, no wireless or ethernet connectivity, no LCD touchscreen, no SD card slots, and no USB ports for flash drives. While the printer is connected to your Mac via USB, you can share the printer via OS X’s Printer Sharing preferences, but built-in networking hardware would be nice for an office printer.

Speed and image quality

The iX6520 was an average speed performer; when compared to other inkjet printers, it finished smack dab in the middle of the pack. It took the iX6520 about 72 seconds to print a 10-page text document at standard quality. Our letter-sized test photo, a 22MB Photoshop image, took a little less than 2 minutes to print at High quality settings on glossy photo paper. Printing the same photo on 13-by-19 inch photo paper took just about 4 minutes. Our four-page PDF test took a little more than 4 minutes to print at High quality settings on plain paper.

Color photos printed on Canon’s own Pro Platinum Photo Paper looked great, with plenty of detail in shadows and highlights, as well as accurate colors. Printing the same photo on plain paper, however, provided strikingly different results, with a faded, under-saturated look, and an overall pinkish-orange cast to our standard test photo.

Printed text on plain paper looked very good, though not quite laser sharp. Even tiny text was very legible.

Software bundle

The iX6520 comes with some interesting bundled software. The applications themselves aren’t very Mac-like, but they can be helpful.

Easy-WebPrint EX is a Safari plug-in that helps you select and size webpages for printing. Open a webpage and then launch Easy-WebPrint EX. A new Safari window opens with a preview of how the page or pages will print. For example, previewing Macworld.com with Easy-WebPrint EX shows four page previews in one window with check boxes beneath each. You can simply choose which pages you want to print by checking them, or if you prefer, you can click on the Clip tab at the top and a crop box appears. Drag the sides of the crop box until it contains all of the info you want to print and click Print/Preview button. A new preview window opens with the same check boxes. You can use the buttons at the bottom of the Easy-WebPrint EX Safari window to get all of the info on one page, control where the page breaks, or change the orientation of the print from portrait to landscape. Its pretty handy.

The Easy-PhotoPrint EX software allows you to print individual frames from HD movies captured with recent Canon digital cameras. You need Canon’s ImageBrowser software that comes with its cameras to be loaded onto your Mac in order for this particular trick to work.

Macworld’s buying advice

For small offices needing to print large, great-looking photos and spreadsheets, the Canon Pixma iX6520 is worth a look. It lacks features often found on office-oriented printers, and its plain paper photo prints were less than stellar, but its price per page and print times were on par with standard letter-sized inkjets.

[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]

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