The old Pixma iP4500 has been our A List inkjet of choice for more than a year now, but Canon has finally got round to giving it an upgrade.
But while it could be forgiven for just fine-tuning and churning it out, this is more of a full reworking than the minor changes of the MP630. The Pixma iP4600, in fact, blends the best bits from both its predecessor and the budget iP2600, while adding improved performance as well.
The boxy design of the iP4500 has been discarded in favour of the glossy black curves of the iP2600, albeit on a slightly larger scale. The rear flap opens out to comfortably hold 150 sheets, while there’s also a cassette in the base with the same capacity.
The front paper catcher is the usual design, with a secondary arm that folds out for A4 documents. You won’t find luxuries such as touchscreens or LCD panels here, just power and paper-feed buttons on the right-hand front, above a lone PictBridge port.
The iP4600 retains the same five-ink setup from its predecessor, albeit with slightly different part numbers for the cartridges – an all-new engine, perhaps?
We examined the output carefully to find out: you get the gloriously thick black text from the pigment-based tank without sacrificing the shadows and detail from your dye-based photos. Our test text document was crisp and exhibited no spidering, while draft-quality text – although thinner and more frayed – remained perfectly legible.
Colour documents were equally sharp, with just a slightly orangey-red to keep the iP4600 from top marks – something we didn’t find in the old iP4500. Solid areas of colour showed no unevenness, and boundaries between dark and light tones exhibited no bleeding at all.
Photos were just as impressive for the price. While not quite up to the standard of the old Canon Pixma MP610 all-in-one – still our favourite photo device – our test images showed plenty of detail, good colour blending and accurate tones.
And they come out at quite a rate, too. A 6 x 4in print took just 46 seconds to appear, a two-second improvement over the iP4500. Our A4 photomontage finished in 1min 33secs, seven seconds quicker than its predecessor.
Text showed no similar boost, coming at an identical 10ppm in standard mode, but colour documents emerged at a rate of 4.4ppm, up from the iP4500’s 3.9ppm.
So the printer itself is marginally quicker than the iP4500, but the flipside is that the price has risen a little, too.
At $145 it’s still a very affordable printer, although when you consider that the colour ink tanks are currently around $20 each, it suffers from a similar issue to the MP630 – it isn’t quite as stunningly cheap to run as its predecessor.
That aside, it’s an excellent device. The presence of an integrated duplexer and a CD/DVD printing tray is merely the cherry on top of the best affordable home inkjet available today.
This Review appeared in the February, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing