Canon PIXMA iP4950 review
thermal inkjet, print speed, USB, 153x431x297mm
Canon's PIXMA iP4950 is the range-topping model in the company's line up of A4 inkjet printers. While it's most common these days to see inkjet technology at the heart of a multi-function peripheral, the iP4950 is one of a few single-function options for those who already have a scanner, or who simply don't want one.
Like other PIXMA models it's an attractive device, made from glossy black plastic with a textured border around the top panel. There are two paper trays, each of which holds up to 150 sheets of plain paper. Before it can accommodate A4 media, however, the cassette under the printer must be extended. This causes it to protrude from the front by a few inches, but there's an integrated cover to keep the stack free of dust.
Other features help to make this a fairly flexible printer. It's supplied with a tray for mounting printable CDs, which you load manually through a covered slot at the front. It can also print automatically on both sides of each sheet of paper, although this function has become quite commonplace. Canon's five-ink setup is more unusual, comprising dye-based black, cyan, magenta and yellow inks for colour prints, and a pigmented black ink for bolder text on plain paper. Print resolution is a high 9,600 x 2,400 dots per inch (dpi).
Elsewhere things are more basic. There's no support for wired or wireless networking, and no card reader or display. While it's possible to print directly from a camera using PictBridge, the iP4950 is primarily a photo-orientated printer for a single PC.
In use it's quite a quick device, delivering our formal letter test at more than 11 pages per minute (ppm) and graphics-rich colour pages at 3.5ppm. Photo speeds were even more impressive, with the iP4950 rattling off borderless 6x4in shots in less than a minute. Despite this rapidity, the results were extremely good, exhibiting a highly glossy finish on Canon's coated photo papers and excellent detailing among the darkest shades. Characteristically for Canon inkjets, colours in photographs were slightly over-saturated for our tastes, but it's possible to tweak them if desired in the driver.
The iP4950's dye-based colour inks were a touch less authoritative on plain paper, looking very slightly washed out, but the results still compare well to the best inkjets. Black text was bolder than that from some competitors, but we noticed some spidering to the outline of characters that gave away their inkjet origins.
While the comparatively short 339-page life of the printer's main black ink tank contributes to slightly higher than average mono running costs, colour costs are competitive for a photo-orientated inkjet. We're less convinced by the price of the iP4950 itself, though, which is higher than several feature-rich MFPs we've reviewed recently. Crucially, it also costs more than the company's own Canon MG5150; an excellent MFP based on substantially the same print engine. Unless the iP4950's higher print speeds are critical, the MG5150 is far better value.