It's testament to just how good Canon's inkjets are that so little innovation is needed to keep them at the top of the tree. The Pixma iP4850 is physically identical to the outgoing iP4700, with the same low profile and glossy finish, and there are only a few minor changes under the hood.
The only instantly noticeable upgrade is in document speed. Its predecessor's measured rates of 8.8ppm in mono and 5.8ppm in colour have been bumped up slightly, to 10.5ppm and 6.1ppm respectively. Other than that, a top-quality 6 x 4in print still took 46 seconds and our A4 photomontage 1min 38secs.
Where Canon has tried to break new ground is in the accompanying software and tools. The iP4850 uses new PGI-525 and CLI-526 inks, but tanks are chipped, and using a full set of genuine Canon inks gives exclusive access to Creative Park Premium – a private extension of Canon's existing art and creativity website. It isn't must-have stuff, but it's a neat bonus.
The other new addition is the Full HD Movie Print function. This function grabs a chosen still from any scene on a Canon EOS or PowerShot camera, enhances it and prints it as a high-quality photo. Hardly a mainstream feature, and it's a shame that more video types aren't supported, but we can see the appeal.
And that's pretty much it. Same 5-colour ink system, duplex and optical disc printing; same USB interface and PictBridge port; same two 150-sheet paper trays; and same above-average running costs. There's nothing at all here to tempt owners of the iP4700 – or even the iP4600 – to upgrade, but you get the feeling Canon knows only too well how good its printers currently are.
With the Pixma range it's a case of not messing with a winning formula: it's still the fastest all-round inkjet on the market, and none can match the quality of its document or photo prints. So without doing an awful lot new or exciting, the iP4850 steals onto the A-List – for home printing there's simply no competition.