Canon PIXMA iP4300 review
Though its photo prints aren't perfect, Canon's PIXMA iP4300 has high all-round print quality and is impressively fast. Both HP printers are worthy alternatives, but with its superior paper handling and flexibility the iP4300 is narrowly the best printer in this review.
Review Date: 20 Oct 2006
Price when reviewed: inc VAT
Reviewed By: Simon Handby
While it isn't that expensive, the PIXMA iP4300 is the most expensive Canon printer here. It's also the best specified, printing with tiny one-picolitre ink droplets at a high resolution.
The iP4300 prints using five inks, which come in separate tanks. As with the iP3300, you need to insert its print head before adding the cartridges, after which the printer primes itself for a few minutes. Canon's install program prompts you to start the automatic head-alignment process.
This printer has two paper inputs. The 150-sheet lower cassette is protected from dust, so you can store coated photo paper there while printing everyday jobs from the rear input. It is the only printer in this review that can print to a coated CD or DVD disc. It's also the only printer with a duplexer, so it can print on both sides of each sheet of paper automatically.
The iP4300 is very fast on plain paper. It couldn't match the blistering draft text performance of the two HP inkjets, but it slowed down less than either when printing at higher-quality settings. At its Standard quality setting, the iP4300 completed our 24-page colour document in nine minutes. This makes it one of the quickest inkjets we've tested. Its black pigment ink produced particularly crisp and dark text on our formal letter test.
When printing photos, the iP4300 uses only its four dye-based inks, but it produces such small ink droplets that you can't make out any grain. Pictures seem sharp, too, though they're a little oversaturated. Keen photographers will want to use the driver's colour settings to correct a slight sepia tone in colour prints. Our black-and-white test photo had a slight green tint and was lacking in contrast.
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