Canon Pixma iP3000
The Pixma iP3000 is number two of four in Canon's Pixma line. Pixma, shorthand for pixel maximum, represents the latest spin on Canon's consumer marketing strategy, which the company states is "to make it easier to print out better photos." Alas, the iP3000 fails to live up to its billing, at least as far as the "better" part is concerned. The iP3000 costs $50 less than its big brother, but it's a bit slower and produces output that's even worse than the iffy iP4000's.
In looks, the Pixma iP3000 is the Mary-Kate to the iP4000's Ashley. That is, it has an identical bread-box design, but the case is a dark gray instead of black and silver, and it looks slightly less cool. Like the iP4000, it has a corner power button and paper-input trays on top and bottom, holding 300 sheets total, plus a button to switch between them. Also like the iP4000, it has a direct-print port inside the front panel for printing from a Canon or PictBridge-compatible camera. The included software and printer drivers are exactly the same as those bundled with the. But where the iP4000 has parallel and USB ports, the iP3000 has only a USB port (cable not included). It's also missing the iP4000's pigment-based black ink cartridge.
The iP3000's text output looks identical to the iP4000's, which, while pretty good, loses points for feathering around the letters. Text looked especially bad next to graphical elements, and colored graphics had a generally inconsistent, washed-out tone. As with the iP4000, the iP3000's test photos showed a lot of dithering (meaning you could tell that the graphical and photo elements were made up of blended dots). The iP3000 had a harder time than the iP4000 with fine details, but our images did come out nicely saturated. The iP3000 runs a bit slower than its big brother, averaging 6.64 pages per minute on text and 2.5 minutes per page when printing an 8x10 photo. Per-page costs run approximately 4 cents for a standard (20 percent coverage) letter-size page and 15 cents for an 8x10 photo.
Canon includes an industry-standard one-year warranty. Toll-free tech support is available from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can find free, well-written tutorials, FAQs, and downloadable manuals online. Canon provides e-mail support, but in response to a few general questions, we got only somewhat helpful automated responses. The Q&A troubleshooter helped a lot to isolate our problem, though Canon could stand to round out the multiple-choice options. Overall, Canon's support site is useful and easy to navigate.