Canon continues its lineage of successful Pixma portable inkjet printers with the iP100, an upgrade from last year's iP90v. This time around, Canon increased the number of ink nozzles and doubled the maximum resolution to 4,800x1,200 dpi color. As a result, we've seen significant improvements in both print speed and quality that make the portable iP100 competitive with even some full-size printers. For $250, you don't get some of the bells and whistles of Hewlett-Packard's mobile companion such as a multimedia card reader or optional Wi-Fi connectivity. Even still, we much prefer this Canon for its lower profile, its quick print speeds, an upgraded cartridge set, and its overall versatility.
We like the design continuity in the Pixma mobile line and the simple aesthetic it provides. The iP100 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the iP90v. The body has a matte-silver finish with glossy black side panels and paper handling trays that extend out of the device. Thankfully, the input tray holds 50 sheets of paper, a 20-page jump from the iP90v. The right side of the printer houses an infrared port for connecting to IrMC 1.1-compatible cell phones, a USB 2.0 port, and a PictBridge port for direct printing from compatible digicams. For an extra $50, Canon will throw in the BU-30, a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into the USB port, allowing you to print wirelessly from a laptop or mobile device. Unfortunately, the iP100 lacks the built-in card reader that's included in the HP H470; users are forced to print via USB or through the PictBridge port. There's also no Wi-Fi adapter currently available for the iP100, so if these two features are absolute must-haves, the HP Deskjet 460c might be a better choice.
At 2.4 inches tall, 12.7 inches wide, and 7.2 inches deep, the iP100 is actually slightly larger and heavier than last year's model, but it still retains a smaller profile than its direct competitor, the HP Officejet H470. From a portability standpoint, the iP100 is easily transportable, but it would have been great if Canon had included a carrying case to protect the unit in transit.
While the iP100 keeps the same physical profile as its predecessor, the internal cartridge system has been completely revamped. First, the iP100 bumps up the number of total nozzles from 1,088 to 1,856. Compare that to the 1,072 nozzles inside the H470 and you'll see why Canon is more than one full model ahead of HP in this competitive space. The iP100 uses Canon's newest ChromoLife color inks; each cartridge costs approximately $17 and reportedly yields 249 pages. Like the iP90v and the iP90 before it, economic users can stretch out their cartridges' lifecycles using two options built into the driver: Save Black Ink or Use Composite mode. Save Black Ink reduces the amount of black ink used in text and grayscale graphics, while the Use Composite mode produces a pseudo-black out of the remaining color spectrum once the black ink is depleted.