When I started testing the Pixma iP4300 Photo Inkjet Printer, the iP4200 still reigned supreme, and I couldn’t help wondering whether this new model would improve much on it.
Well, it does. A lot. The iP4300 is faster, and cheaper, and it even offers a smidge better quality than the iP4200 does. And it retains welcome touches such as two paper trays, the ability to duplex automatically, and a PictBridge connector for direct printing from cameras.
The paper handling features are typical for Canon ink jet printers and AIOs, but they’re worth special mention, because they aren’t typical for ink jets in general. Each of the paper trays can hold 150 sheets of plain paper, which is a substantial capacity for a home office or a personal printer in a larger office. If you’re using the iP4300 as a home printer, you can load plain paper in one tray and photo paper in the other, so you can switch between standard printing and photos without having to load and unload paper each time. With either approach, the second tray is a highly useful convenience.
Setup is absolutely standard for a Canon ink jet printer. Find a place for the 6.3- by 17.5- by 12.0-inch (HWD) printer, plug in the power cord, snap in the print head and ink cartridges, load paper, plug in the USB cable, and run the automated setup program. One touch that’s a little unusual is the ink system, with five ink cartridges to snap in. The iP4300 uses cyan, yellow, magenta, and two versions of blackâ€”a pigment-based black for better-looking text, and a dye-based black for better-looking photos.
I can describe the iP4300′s print speed in one word: exceptional. It sped through business applications suite in just 12 minutes 9 seconds (timed with QualityLogic’s hardware and software, www.qualitylogic.com). Nothing else I’ve tested in its price range is even close. To find a faster ink jet, you have to move up to the HP Officejet Pro K550 Color Printer, which took 9:08â€”and costs twice as much. Speed for photos is also impressive, averaging 47 seconds for each 4-by-6 and 1:34 for each 8-by-10.
What makes the speed even more remarkable is that it goes hand in hand with high-quality output. Every standard business font I tested was easily readable, with well-formed characters at 4 points, and even the most stylized font, with thick strokes, was easily readable at 20 points. The edges on characters are not as crisp as you would get with a laser, but most people would need a magnifying glass to see the difference. Except for the most demanding desktop-publishing application, the iP4300 can handle any text you throw at it.
Graphics were a match for all but a handful of ink jets. They’re easily good enough for any internal business use and even good enough to hand to an important client or customer, as long as you stay away from thin lines, which tend to disappear. Also, with the standard plain paper we use in our tests, graphics that fill most of a page tend to make the paper curlâ€”a problem the iP4300 shares with other Canon ink jets and AIOs. If you need full-page graphics, as with presentation handouts, you may need to print them on more expensive paper.
Photos all showed true photo quality, with no important flaws. Color was on the punchy side, but many people prefer that to more realistic colors. And they are certainly high enough quality for framing and hanging on a wall.
Just as important for photos you want to keep for a long time, Canon claims lifetimes of 100 years for photos kept in an album, 30 years for photos framed behind glass, and 10 years for photos exposed to the air. The photos are also highly water-resistant, which I proved by holding one freshly printed photo under running water while rubbing it. Some of the dye migrated into the white border as it dried, but the photo itself looked fine. As a practical matter, you can safely handle the photos without worrying about ruining them with moist hands.
Whether you’re looking for speed, output quality, or features, the Canon Pixma iP4300 Photo Inkjet Printer stands out from the pack.
Related Links: Canon Pixma iP4300 Inkjet Photo Printer