Canon Pixma iP4200 review: Canon Pixma iP4200

Although the iP4200's driver can automatically adjust colour balance, you can access sliders that adjust the intensity of the individual inks; you can also switch from sRGB to Windows Image Color Management (ICM). Grayscale printing just requires the tick of a check box, and a simplistic Print Advisor wizard can quiz you on the kind of document you're printing and recommend an appropriate paper.

In addition to duplexing, the Page Setup options include size and orientation, number of copies, border/borderless printing, and whether you'd like to add a background image or a watermark (such as For the President's Eyes Only). An Effects tab provides settings for optimising the image; reducing noise; boosting contrast; or adding effects such as sepia, pink, and other colours. You can save any of your settings as a profile for reuse in another printing session.

The Maintenance tab has buttons for nozzle checks and cleaning, printhead alignment, and other tasks, including a bottom-plate-cleaning function that uses a folded letter-size sheet to tidy up before duplex printing.

The economy of four-colour photo printing comes at a price. As expected, the Canon Pixma iP4200's colour gamut doesn't equal that of printers with six or more primaries. It still produced good-looking, neutral colours with only a faint cyan tinge in some prints. However, despite the small droplets, we could readily see the ink clusters as multicoloured speckles under 10X magnification. While the pigment-based text output looked good, up close it didn't come near laser quality, showing a profusion of artifacts and jaggies in diagonal lines. Even vertical lines didn't look as sharp as they should. Still, we thought that most bargain-hunting home users would find the photo and text quality very acceptable.

The iP4200 ran slower than other Pixmas we've used, such as the iP5000, though it was pretty fast for its class. In our tests, the iP4200 output a page of text in about a minute; an 8.5x11-inch colour print in 4 minutes, 9 seconds; a 4x6-inch print in 74 seconds; and a duplexed sheet with text in almost 3 minutes.

CNET Labs inkjet printer perfomance in pages per minute
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photo speed  
Text speed  
Canon Pixma iP4200
HP DeskJet 6840
HP PSC 1500
Epson Stylus Photo R320
Lexmark P4350

Canon's support for the Pixma line includes a one-year limited warranty and a broad range of telephone and online support options. While Canon Pixma iP4200 comes with a skimpy printed manual, the installation CD has an expanded HTML version. We usually found it faster to zip over to Canon's Web site, which has downloadable drivers, a comprehensive set of FAQs that answered most questions, and an interactive step-by-step troubleshooting wizard, along with duplicates of the CD manual if you lose your disc. Canon also offers an e-mail address for sending questions to live tech-support representatives.

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