Canon PIXMA iP4850 £69.99
12th Nov 2010 | 14:41
Canon's new super-fast printer builds on the runaway success of the iP4700
Canon PIXMA iP4850: Overview
How much do you really need to pay for a top-of-the-range printer? If you don't need options such as Wi-Fi connectivity, faxing and self-contained photocopying – offered in varying mixes by Lexmark's Impact S305, and Epson's PX720WD and WorkForce range – it might be less than you think.
The new Canon iP4850 delivers spectacular performance for just £70. Taking over where the outgoing iP4700 left off, the latest model features a new set of pigment-based black ink, plus dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks that are tailored for top-quality document and photo printing.
In fact, the actual inks remain the same, it's just the cartridges they come in are slightly different, with PGI-525 for pigment black and four CLI-526 cartridges for the dye-based inks.
In most ways, the new iP4850 is near identical to the older iP4700, but that's no bad thing.
It keeps the same dimensions at a remarkably compact 431 x 297 x 153mm (W x D x H). As with most other printers, the overall depth increases once you've extended the input and output trays to their full extension, but in this case to a still space-friendly 550mm.
The input and output trays are also worthy of note here, since you get a 150-sheet cassette feeder that slots in underneath the printer, plus a full-size upright feeder at the rearm which can take a further 150 sheets of full A4-sized paper.
The upright feeder is especially useful for loading with photo paper, meaning you don't have to keep swapping paper types every time you want to switch between document and photo printing. Some printers, such as the HP Photosmart Plus and Epson PX720WD, also feature a separate photo tray, but in both of those cases you only get a postcard-sized photo tray, which is no good for A4 photo printing.
Many of Canon's older models included a paper feed switch on the front of the printer, but this has been scrapped on the iP4850. It actually helps avoid a bit of confusion, since the printer driver could overrule the paper feed switch anyway. Now, an automatic option selects the lower cassette for document printing and the rear tray for photo printing, but this can still be overridden in Printer Properties.
Other finery includes auto duplex for double-sided printing, which is no mean feat on a printer this small. Better still, printing is as amazingly fast as the iP4700, outputting mono text pages in six seconds, colour DTP pages in 16 seconds, 6 x 4-inch normal quality photos in 19 seconds and full A4 borderless photo prints at the highest quality setting in two minutes flat.
Document quality is impeccable and colour photo quality is absolutely stunning. The only thing that's second-best here is black-and-white photo printing, which can have a slight colour cast. To avoid this, you'd need to upgrade to Canon's PIXMA MG6150 all-in-one printer.
Canon PIXMA iP4850: Conclusion
Considering its very compact footprint, the iP4850 offers a full range of features, including auto duplex printing, direct printing onto CDs and DVDs and dual paper input feeds, along with super-fast, ultra-high-quality output.
Photo quality is dazzling, with beautiful colour rendition, excellent brightness and contrast, and highly flattering skin tones. Reserving the full-size rear paper feed for photo paper up to A4 in size is another bonus, so you can keep the lower input cassette for plain paper.
The iP4850 does a brisk and excellent job of document printing thanks to its mix of pigment-based and dye-based inks.
The printer also features Canon's latest Full HD Movie Print gizmo, so you can print individual frames of video clips captured on Canon cameras via the software that comes as part of the package.
If you're using genuine Canon inks (which we'd always recommend), you also get access to Canon Creative Park Premium, enabling you to download top-quality photos and illustrations for projects such as greetings cards and calendars.
Being 'just a printer', rather than an all-in-one, you don't get a scanner for scanning or stand-alone photocopying, and there are no built-in memory card readers or LCD preview screens here. That said, you can still print photos directly from PrintBridge-compatible cameras.
If all you want is a printer, as opposed to a multi-function device that can do everything apart from making coffee, the iP4850 is an absolute stunner. Print quality is exceptional for both photo and document printing; running costs are reasonable; it's got a neat range of features, including auto duplex and CD printing; and it's immensely fast. At the price, it's an absolute steal.
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