Canon Pixma iP4600 review

18 May 2009
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Thermal inkjet, 26ppm print speed, , 431 x 296 x 153mm

If you need to print more than just postcards, then a traditional A4 inkjet is the most versatile choice.

Versatility is the key word for Canon's Pixma iP4600, which we first saw in What's New, Shopper 250. A paper cassette on its underside holds up to 150 sheets of A4 paper for day-to-day printing, while a fold-out tray at the rear can hold another 150 sheets of coated paper. Canon also includes an adaptor for printing on discs. All these fold-out flaps and telescopic trays make this already bulky printer take up more space when it's in use, though.

Single three-colour cartridges have mainly been supplanted in inkjets by four or more separate tanks that can be replaced individually. The iP4600 sticks with standard cyan, magenta and yellow for colour printing, but it has two black ink tanks: one for photos and a larger tank for text.

When it comes to printing text, the iP4600 is in a league of its own, not least because of the built-in duplexer. It's not the fastest inkjet, but when printing on ordinary photocopier paper, text output is razor sharp and jet black and all but indistinguishable from that of a laser printer. Photo print speed, both for postcard-size prints and full-page A4, is average, but again, print quality is impressive. Photos on glossy paper were natural-looking and only the usual inkjet dottiness in areas of very subtle shading gave the game away. Flesh tones were perfectly rendered, though.

Although all printer manufacturers offer a variety of papers for photo printing, Canon was the only company to supply more than one type. We used Photo Paper Plus Glossy II for our main tests, but also printed on Photo Paper Pro II and Pro Platinum paper. The difference in quality between each paper was imperceptible, and the only way we could tell the papers apart was by their thickness. Sticking with the cheapest paper is the sensible option.

The iP4600 doesn't have a display or card readers, although it does support PictBridge cameras for direct printing. As long as you're happy to print mainly from a PC, this is a superb choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Maximum native print resolution 9600 x 2400dpi

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 26ppm
Quoted speed, colour A4 21ppm

Tested Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 3m 35s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 5m 14s

Print Quality

Number of ink colours 5
Number of ink cartridges 5
Maximum number of ink colours 5
Maximum number of cartridges 5

Physical and Environmental

Optional printer interfaces Hi-Speed USB, PictBridge
Size 431 x 296 x 153mm
Weight 5.7kg
Noise (in normal use) 45.5dB
Power consumption standby 1W
Power consumption idle 1W
Power consumption active 18W

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size A4
Maximum paper weight 105gsm
Standard paper inputs 2
Standard paper input capacity 300
Maximum paper inputs 2
Maximum paper input capacity 300
Duplex (code, cost if option) Yes

Photo Features

PictBridge support Yes
Borderless printing up to A4
Direct (PC-less) printing Yes
Supported memory cards N/A
CD printing Yes


Printer technology Thermal inkjet
Supported operating systems Windows Vista™ (32bit, 64bit) / Windows XP SP2 / Windows 2000 Professional SP4
Other inkjet options Optional Bluetooth

Buying Information

Price £81
Consumable parts and prices Black £13.99; colours £11.99
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge 3160 photos (PGI-520BK), 665 photos (CLI-521BK)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s) Cyan: 505 pages (CLI-521C), Magenta: 471 pages (CLI-521M), Yellow:505 pages (CLI-521Y)
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s) Cyan: 205 photos (CLI-521C), Magenta: 206 photos (CLI-521M), Yellow: 211 photos (CLI-521Y)
Warranty one year RTB

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 3m 35s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 5m 14s