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Canon Pixma G3501 review: Low running costs but low on features, too

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

An affordable printer with hefty ink tanks that keep printing costs low but it can’t do double-sided printing

Pros 
Very low running costs
Prints, copies and scans
Affordable
Cons 
Lacks secondary paper tray
No automatic duplex
Slow to print
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The Canon G3501 is a stalwart of the G series of printers, which Canon also refers to as its MegaTank range. This printer, and the other printers in the series, uses ink tanks instead of cartridges to store ink. They’re refilled from bottles that hold enough ink to print thousands of pages, which makes them cheaper to run than other types of printer.

Once you’ve bought into the concept of buying a G series printer, there’s a bewildering amount of choice, depending on whether you want a mono or colour printer, and what range of additional functions you’d like to add.

READ NEXT: Canon Pixma MG5750 review

Canon Pixma G3501 review: What do you get for the money?

The Canon Pixma G3501 sits at the cheaper end of the range’s colour models at around £200. It still looks fairly costly on paper but it’s front-loaded because it comes with enough ink to print 12,000 mono pages (from two bottles of black ink) and 7,000 colour pages (from a bottle each of cyan, magenta and yellow ink). It can print at resolutions up to 4,800 x 1,200dpi.

The unit measures 163 x 445 x 330mm (HWD) and 5.8kg, which is quite large and hefty for a basic inkjet multifunction printer. It doesn’t have an automatic sheet feeder to bulk out the height, but its ink tanks need space in the main body and add to the overall size.

Some of this room is taken up by its built-in scanner, which has a maximum scanning resolution of 600 x 1,200dpi. This gives the G3501 the ability to scan and copy documents as well as print. What this model doesn’t have is a display. Instead, there are five buttons on the top, which are used for turning the printer on and off and making copies.

This isn’t the only area where the printer is under-equipped; it also only has a single rear paper input tray and no secondary tray for single-sheet jobs. This means you’ll need to swap out your paper if you want to print a photo or envelope. It also lacks the ability to automatically flip a page over and print on both sides.

You can, however, connect the printer via both Wi-Fi and USB, so you can print from any Wi-Fi-enabled PC or mobile device.


Canon Pixma G3501 review: Is it easy to use?

Getting the Canon filled with ink and ready to go isn’t difficult but it isn’t quite as fool-proof as on some rivals such as the Epson EcoTank ET-2750. For a start, there’s no security system to stop you filling tanks with the wrong ink.

Everything is well labelled, however, so you’d have to suffer from a significant lapse in concentration to get ink in the wrong tank. You also have to squeeze the bottles to get the ink out, which is fine but a little more nerve-wracking than Epson’s self-emptying bottles.

The rest of the configuration is a breeze. Canon has a great system for setting up its printers, encouraging you to visit its website where you choose your model, then work through detailed step-by-step guides and videos. A confident installer can skip through these, but they’re ready and waiting to guide the nervous.

The lack of a screen is a bit of a hindrance to controlling the printer but its basic copying functions are simple enough to use. If anything goes wrong, however, it’s easier to fix the problem if the printer is connected to a PC, so you can see detailed error messages.

READ NEXT: Canon Pixma TS8350 review

Canon Pixma G3501 review: What’s print quality like?

Print quality is consistent with other tank-based inkjet printers models, in that it falls a little short of cartridge inkjet expectations. If you want better prints, you’re still better off with a cartridge-based inkjet, such as the Canon Pixma TS8350. However, the G3501’s prints are perfectly good for most purposes and better quality than the cheapest inkjet models.

I found that the G3501 was better at standard printing jobs than the Epson ET-2750 but the Epson produced a better photo, particularly where those photos had a lot of dark areas in them.

Canon Pixma G3501 review: What about speed and running costs?

By the time you come to need to replace it, the cost of refueling this printer drops to 0.2p per mono page and 0.4p per colour page. This is typical for a tank-based printer but significantly cheaper than any other type of inkjet or laser.

The devotion to great value doesn’t apply to speed. When printing in mono the G3501 takes 15 seconds to produce its first page, which is a few seconds behind the fastest models. It then plods along at 7.4ppm in mono and 2ppm in colour. As you’d expect, its performance doesn’t get any better when producing copies but it perked up a little when scanning, producing a 1,200dpi scan of a 6 x 4in photo in less than a minute. This is not a particularly rapid printer.

READ NEXT: Canon Pixma TS6250 review

Canon Pixma G3501 review: Should you buy it?

The G3501 doesn’t quite hit the sweet-spot of Canon’s MegaTank printer range. Its low price sees it shedding a few too many features such as the ability to print on both sides automatically, capabilities that come included with pricier models, such as the Pixma G5050.

However, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to pay more, this printer’s running costs are as low here as they are on any tank-based inkjet model.

Epson has a good alternative in the EcoTank ET-2750, which prints slightly better quality photos and can output on both sides of a page. It still doesn’t come with a separate paper tray, however, and costs a fair bit more at £260. For better-quality prints, meanwhile, you need to ditch the tanks and go back to cartridges: the Canon Pixma TS8350, for example, which produces stunning prints.

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