Don’t ignore Canon’s entry-level Pixma. Yes, it’s cheap, basic and slow, but it’s also surprisingly good
- Strong print quality
- Affordable printing costs
- It's not ideal for multiple users
- Not suited for heavy use
Less than £30, Canon’s Pixma TS205 is just about the cheapest printer you can buy. It connects only to a single PC via a USB cable, so there’s no Wi-Fi, cloud or mobile support. There’s also no scanner, meaning copies and faxes are out. Clearly, it won’t suit everyone, but if you’re looking to buy the cheapest printer possible, is it any good?
Canon Pixma TS205 review: Features
Our first impressions were mixed. The TS205 is tiny, making it easy to find a home for. It also looks smart, particularly with the paper trays closed, but it doesn’t feel like a high-quality item. Its black and tricolour ink cartridges don’t so much slot into place as wobble through a big compartment at the front, and its input and output trays flex too much for our liking.
Canon Pixma TS205 review: Performance
At the rear, the slotted-in power adapter looks like an afterthought. The TS205’s output tray is missing a hard stop to arrest printed pages, but with a top speed of just 7.7ppm that turned out to not be an issue. Pages of black text crept out at 7.5ppm – true to Canon’s quoted speed – while, typically for a Pixma, switching to draft mode was no faster. Colour graphics appeared at a painful 1.6ppm.
On plain paper, this is comfortably the slowest printer in this test. You don’t get automatic duplex printing at this price, but the TS205 also won’t let you print photos on anything other than 10 x 15cm paper. The driver will let you select A4 photo paper, but send the print job and you get an error – we’re not sure why the option isn’t greyed out.
At its highest quality setting, the TS205 produced borderless prints at a rate of about one every two and three-quarter minutes. That’s slow, but three of the other inkjets in this test were slower. In use, the TS205 wheezes and scrapes as each page inches toward completion.
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Canon Pixma TS205 review: Design and features
It’s not so much the volume of noise that can be grating, but the fact that it hints at an overly familiar union between the print heads and the page they’re working on. To be fair, there’s no other evidence this is the case, and regardless the print heads are renewed with each cartridge change.
This printer arrives with standard cartridges, rated for 180 pages in black and colour, and to Canon’s credit, they had plenty of ink left after our testing. That’s not something we can always say, even for mid-range devices, but we should note that we couldn’t print our usual three photo tests on A4 paper. Once both cartridges are spent, you can replace them with “XL” cartridges rated for 400 black pages and 300 in colour.
Given that Canon is almost giving the TS205 away, you might expect it to recoup its losses on ink. Strangely, however, printing is almost affordable. With the XL supplies you will pay a hefty 3.9p per black page, but a comparatively reasonable 5.3p for the cyan, magenta and yellow component. Together, the 9.2p total for pages of mixed black text and colour graphics is cheaper than many other printers, and not at all bad for such a cheap device.
Surprisingly perhaps, print quality is strong, particularly on plain paper where there’s little to choose between the TS205 and mid-range printers such as Canon’s Pixma TS6250. Colour graphics were bold and punchy, with no obvious banding, grain or other artefacts. Black text was solid and crisp at typical font sizes, although by 8pt and below character outlines began to get a little scruffy. It took an eyeglass to tell, however – in everyday use, nobody would ever notice.
Photo prints tended toward a slightly warm colour bias, which suited some subjects but made others seem autumnal. When viewing through an eyeglass, we were struck by the precision of the TS205’s dot placement, and the sharpness it brought to certain subjects.
Canon Pixma TS205 review: Verdict
While photos aren’t up to the standards of the TS6250, Canon’s cheaper printer is by no means embarrassed. We wouldn’t recommend the Pixma TS205 for heavy use and, although you can share it via a PC, NAS or router, it’s not ideal for multiple users. Otherwise, it may be as cheap as chips – and as noisy as the seagulls stealing them – but it’s a surprisingly capable bargain.
|Canon Pixma TS205 specifications|
|Maximum print resolution||4,800 x 1,200dpi|
|Maximum scan resolution (output bit depth)||N/A|
|Dimensions||426 x 255 x 131mm|
|Maximum paper size||A4/legal (275gsm)|