The Canon Pixma iP3500 is a low-cost, single-function printer designed for home users with light printing needs. Happily, this $80 inkjet's output quality is good enough for not only general personal use--printing e-mails and directions--but it also suffices for school reports and the like. Its print speeds are average to above average, and you'll be more than pleased with the print quality. Not surprisingly, the Pixma iP3500's feature set offers nothing beyond the basics; you won't find extras such as memory card slots or networking on such an inexpensive printer. If you need networking, the $80 Lexmark Z1420 comes Wi-Fi-enabled, but it loses out to the Canon iP3500 in terms of print quality.
The Canon iP3500's design is simple and straightforward. The black-and-silver printer stands 17.2 inches wide, 11.9 inches deep, and 5.7 inches tall, and it weighs 10.8 pounds. The control panel is basically nonexistent. The only features on the front of the printer are the power and cancel/feed buttons and a PictBridge-enabled USB port.
The printer has two input options. The rear input support folds out from the body of the printer, while the front input support extends out from the front face. The rear input holds as many as 150 sheets of plain paper and is good for all the acceptable paper types. The front input holds up to 100 sheets of plain paper and should be used only for plain paper. Because the path for paper fed through the front input requires the paper to bend around a roller, it's not recommended for any thick media, such as photo paper. The output area consists of a tray above the front input area. Many Canon printers offer a lever that you can use to change the distance between the print heads and the paper; normally, the lever is hidden away in the bowels of the front output area, but on the iP3500, Canon moved it to the face of the printer, making it easier to find.
The iP3500 uses a four-ink system with individual ink cartridges, a system we like because it reduces ink waste. The black tank costs $16.25 to replace and each of the color inks costs $14.25 to replace. Canon estimates the per-page costs for the Pixma iP3500 to be 3 cents for a black-and-white print and 5 cents for a full-color print. Both numbers are low and reasonable for a low-cost printer.
The feature set of the iP3500 is predictably simple. The only connection option is USB 2.0. It does serve up a PictBridge USB port for connecting PictBridge cameras and other devices, but it lacks memory card slots. Users who have IrDA-enabled devices can print wirelessly from smart phones and the like.
Because the printer lacks a control panel, any changes need to be made through the driver, which is comprehensive. You can specify the paper type, change the paper source (front or rear), perform manual duplex jobs, and even apply photo treatments such as monochrome effects (black-and-white, sepia, and so forth), noise reduction, and photo optimizer. You can even create profiles for your most common types of print jobs.