The Canon Pixma iP1700 is the entry-level member of Canon's line of single-function photo inkjet printers. At $50, it's a bargain for a printer that puts out high-quality photos, but its lack of features will leave photo hobbyists hankering for more. If your photo printing needs are basic and you don't mind printing exclusively from your PC, the Pixma iP1700 is a steal. We haven't reviewed other printers in this price range recently, so we can't make direct comparisons, but we did like the Pixma iP1700's print quality better than the $80 Epson Stylus C88's. For $80, you can also get a basic all-in-one that prints, scans, and copies (such as the HP Deskjet F380), but again, you'll get better print quality with the Pixma iP1700.
The Pixma iP1700 has a compact body that measures just 17.2 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 6.5 inches tall. This small footprint comes at a high price, though: the printer lacks an output tray, so your prints will drop directly on your tabletop. Or, if the printer's front edge is too close to the edge of the table, your prints will go sailing to the ground; you may need to babysit your print jobs. The input tray is simply a flap that folds back from the rear of the printer. The autofeeder can hold about 100 sheets of plain paper and roughly 20 sheets of 4x6 photo paper. An adjustable paper guides lets you keep all the sheets together. A lever housed in the bowels of the output area lets you adjust the distance between the print head and the paper: keep the lever to the left for most media types (including photo paper) and switch it to the right for T-shirt transfers and envelopes.
Other than the paper handling, the Pixma iP1700 has nothing of note on its body. A power button and a cancel button are the only objects that adorn the printer. Noticeably lacking are some photocentric features that many users will miss: a PictBridge port, media card readers, and an LCD. We don't expect all of these features on a $50 printer, but you should know that your only option will be to print directly from a PC. The printer supports both Windows and Mac OSs via USB connection.
The iP1700 uses a two-tank ink system: one black and one tricolor. The black tank costs $20 to replace, and the color tank costs $25. Canon estimates the per page costs to be 6 cents for a black-and-white document and 8 cents for a color document. These costs are relatively inexpensive and right in line with the rest of Canon's low-end to midrange printers.
The bundled software helps you through the various steps of printing photos, from selecting photos on your PC to choosing paper. The Easy-PhotoPrint software uses the Windows file tree to help you locate images. From there, you get a photo index-style window of all the shots in that folder. You can designate how many prints of each photo you want and make enhancements such as reducing red-eye or brightening and sharpening faces. The next step is to select the size and type of paper, and finally, you can select the layout you want to use (borderless, image repeat, and so on). If you're feeling creative, the PhotoRecord software will let you add text and illustrations to photos or create an album. Both programs are fairly basic (you can't do advanced photo doctoring), but they're simple to use and are great tools for people just starting out in digital imaging.