Canon i80 review: Canon i80

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The Good Excellent print quality; compact design; fast print speeds; optional car adapter; optional Bluetooth support; easy-to-use software.

The Bad Plain paper often jams; expensive.

The Bottom Line With a car charger and Bluetooth support, the i80 brings mobile printing to the next level. It is best suited for those who work out of the office.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Support 9

Review summary

With the sole exception of its gray cover, the Canon i80 looks identical to its predecessor, the immensely popular i70. On the inside, however, the portable i80 photo printer boasts myriad technical improvements, including enhanced photo quality, better print speed, and improved ink efficiency. Canon also offers an optional Bluetooth module and car adapter for the i80. One thing that does remain the same, however, is the hefty $249 price tag, which doesn't include the accessories. The associated costs alone will keep this portable inkjet printer out of the hands of all but the most dedicated digital-photo enthusiast. If, on the other hand, your job keeps you out of the office--say you work as a real estate agent, a sales representative, or an insurance adjuster--the i80 is your best bet for printing high-quality photos no matter where in the world you are. It is expensive, yes, but it's worth every penny. Weighing less than four pounds and measuring only 2 inches by 12 inches by 7 inches (W, H, D), the Canon i80--like the i70 before it--is among the smallest and lightest inkjet printers we've tested. And yet, unlike the snapshot Canon CP-300, the i80 handles with ease all different sizes of paper, including letter, legal, A4, 4x6, 5x7, and envelopes. The printer's top cover quickly becomes the intake paper tray and can hold 30 sheets of plain paper or about 15 sheets of photo paper. Unfortunately, this printer is not designed to handle heavy print jobs; for instance, there's no output tray. Whenever we loaded more than a few sheets of plain paper, we experienced paper jams.

The USB 1.0 port on the right side of the i80 connects it to a PC or a Mac. (The USB cable, however, must be purchased separately.) On the left side of the printer, there's a USB 2.0 port for Bubble Jet Direct- or PictBridge-compatible digital cameras, such as the Canon PowerShot S50. There's also a proprietary connector strip along the back for use with an optional battery or cradle kit. And the i80 can also be powered from your car's cigarette lighter--again, with an optional adapter.

Setting up the i80 is a very simple process, aided by a well-illustrated setup poster. The printer's design itself is so straightforward that anyone can get this printer up and running within a matter of minutes right out of the box. Despite its compact size, the i80 comes with feature options to beat the band. Unfortunately, most of them cost extra: for the car adapter, add $89; for the Bluetooth adapter, add $79; for the battery kit, add $99; and for the cradle kit, add $139. The good news is that the i80 shares the same i70 battery and cradle kits, allowing current owners of the i70 to upgrade with less expense.

The basic i80 printer does ship with a few new features included. In addition to supporting the Bubble Jet Direct format, which allows you to print images without a PC or a Mac, the i80 includes PictBridge photo technology, once available only in Canon's high-end inkjet printers, such as the i960. Plus, the i80 uses a smaller print head, producing droplets as small as 2 picoliters. That means better image quality, faster print speeds, and more efficient ink usage than the i70. The i80 also offers resolutions up to 4,800x1,200 color dots per inch, and it supports a variety of photo papers, including borderless.

Like the i70, the i80 includes easy-to-use software. ZoomBrowser Ex and PhotoRecord are apps that manage and archive your photos. Easy-WebPrint and Easy-PhotoPrint simplify and enhance the process of printing either photos or Web pages. And there's a very interesting application called PhotoStitch that creates panoramic photos from individual shots. The i80 performs as well as the i70 in speed, but it surpasses its predecessor in quality. In CNET Labs tests, the i80 pumps out 5.6 pages per minute (ppm) of text on regular paper, compared with 7.5ppm for the i70 and a very sluggish 1.5ppm for the HP DeskJet 450cbi. On a 10.5x7-inch test photo, the i80 took a mere 2.8 minutes per page (mpp), tying the i70 for speed, and finishing well ahead of the 450cbi's 4.5mpp.

The i80's overall print quality is impressive, to say the least. On inkjet paper, both text and graphics look sharp and crisp, and graphics specifically have excellent gradients, as well as perfect color matching throughout. The only glitch in our tests was that the text and the graphics were light, though this can be fixed by adjusting the print driver. But the Canon i80 impressed us the most with its excellent photo quality. The printouts look as crisp as those from the highest-quality printers we've seen, such as the Canon i960's or the Epson R300M's.

The i80 is frugal with ink, too. By our calculations, the i80 used about one dollar's worth of ink and paper for every 10.5x7-inch photo, about average for a quality photo printer these days. Given that our test photo is graphically dense and rich, with a wide palette of colors, it's likely that you'll spend even less.

Inkjet text speed test  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Canon i70
Canon i80
HP Deskjet 450cbi

Inkjet color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Canon i80
Canon i70
HP Deskjet 450cbi

Inkjet printer quality
•Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Coated paper text  Coated paper graphics  8.5x11 color image on photo paper
 Canon i80 ••• ••• ••••
 Canon i70 •• •• •••
 HP Deskjet 450cbi ••• ••• •••
Like the i70, the i80 comes with an industry-standard, one-year limited warranty. During this time, you're also entitled to the company's InstantExchange policy, which ensures that you'll receive a replacement unit by the next business day should your printer fail. While the product is under warranty, Canon also provides free, phone tech support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

On our test calls, Canon's technical-support line was responsive, and we were able to speak to a real person within a few minutes. An additional $95 will extend the warranty to up to three years. By comparison, HP's warranty on its 450cbi is a slightly better deal, covering free shipping for repairs and toll-free, 24/7 tech support for one year, with another three years for $65.

Canon's Web site features updated drivers, user guides, and FAQs. There's also a well-organized knowledge base available for troubleshooting.

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