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Canon Pixma iP1800 ink-jet photo printer

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The Pixma iP1800 is Canon’s entry-level ink-jet photo printer, which is clear if you take a gander at its price tag. At the surprisingly low price of $50, this printer is equipped with the bare essentials to perform its duties: a sheet feeder, a dual ink-cartridge system, a USB port to connect the printer to your Mac, and a roller that spits out your photos. Despite this minimal set of features, the printer won’t disappoint. The iP1800’s photos have some imperfections, but they look pleasing overall. You’ll definitely get enough bang for your buck.

To keep the iP1800 at its low price, Canon left out features you’d find on most photo printers: a photo-card reader, a separate media tray for smaller photo papers, PictBridge support, and an output tray. This printer is user-friendly, though, and very easy to set up. After snapping the two ink cartridges into place, loading some paper, installing the printer driver, and connecting the USB cable to your Mac, you’re ready to print. Since there is no output tray to catch your prints, you should turn the printer to face a clean, flat surface.

The color photos I printed with the iP1800 looked decent to me. Colors appeared accurate when compared to our control photo, and images were very crisp and clear overall. But black inks were too light, and thus shadow detail was lacking in depth. The black-and-white photos I printed had the same problem with shadow detail. Our panel of experts gave this printer’s photo-print quality a Very Good rating.

Though the iP1800 is a photo printer, you may feel tempted to use it to print text documents, e-mails, or the occasional movie ticket. The gray-scale text documents I printed were slightly grainy, and, as with the color photos, the black inks were light. Our panel gave the iP1800’s gray-scale print quality a Good rating. The iP1800 performed better with color documents, preserving thin lines and distinguishing gradients quite well. Our panel gave this printer a Very Good rating for graphics, fine lines, and gradients.

jury tests

Graphics: Fine lines and gradients Very Good
22MB Photoshop image quality Very Good
Text quality Good

Scale: Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

timed trials

Ten-page Word test 1:44
One-page Word test 0:20
22MB Photoshop image 2:35
Four-page PDF 2:28
4-by-6-inch photo 1:24
Five 4-by-6-inch photos 6:12

Times are in minutes:seconds.

How we tested: We ran all the tests with the photo printer connected via USB 2.0 to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro, with Mac OS X 10.4.8 installed and with 1GB of RAM. We recorded the time it took the printer to print a one-page Word document and a ten-page Word document, as well as the time it took to print a 22MB Photoshop image and a four-page PDF. We then 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 photo printers we’ve tested.—Macworld Lab testing by Brian Chen


Print resolution Black: 600 x 600 dpi; color: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi
Connection USB 2.0
Paper sizes Credit card (2.13 x 3.39), 4 x 6, 4 x 8, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, letter, legal, U.S. No. 10 envelopes
Cost to replace ink/toner cartridges $45 ($20 for black; $25 for color)
Weight (in pounds) 7.3
Dimensions (height x depth x width, in inches) 6 x 9.3 x 17.4
Paper capacity 150
Special features None

Macworld’s buying advice

The iP1800 exceeded our expectations of how well a $50 printer could perform. Though shadow detail was lacking and blacks appeared too light, the iP1800’s ability to produce very good photos was impressive for a printer at this price. In addition, the iP1800’s ability to print decent-looking gray-scale and color documents adds extra value to a purchase you won’t regret.

[ Brian Chen is an assistant editor at Macworld.]

Canon Pixma iP1800
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