The Canon Pixma iP4500 is a moderately expensive single-function printer designed for general home use. Unlike Canon's more photo-oriented single functions like the Pixma iP6700d, the $130 iP4500 lacks memory card slots and a preview LCD. The iP4500 is a step up from the recently reviewed iP3500; it offers faster print speed, slightly better print quality, and more features, including an auto duplexer. If your printing needs are minimal, however, we think you should save your money and stick to a less expensive model like the $80 iP3500, but if you print enough to justify the price, the iP4500 is a great option for general printing.
The Pixma iP4500's design is simple and straightforward--the body is mainly black, with silver accents. It measures 17.5 inches wide, 11.9 inches deep, and 6.3 inches tall, and weighs 15.2 pounds. The only features in the printer's control panel are a PictBridge USB port, power and cancel/feed buttons, and an input source button that switches between paper trays.
You get two paper input options on this model: the rear input folds open from the top/back edge of the printer, and the cassette pulls out from the bottom/front. Both can hold up to 150 pages of plain paper. Canon recommends putting stiffer media such as photo paper in the rear input, as paper in the cassette is forced to bend around a roller. Both inputs have adjustable paper guides, so both can handle a wide range of paper sizes. A panel in the front of the printer folds out to serve as the output tray.
The iP4500 uses a five-ink system: pigment black for better text prints, and dye-based black, yellow, cyan, and magenta for better graphics and color blending. The pigment black costs $16.25 to replace and each of the dye-based inks costs $14.25 to replace. Canon estimates that a page of text costs about 3 cents, and a full-color page costs 4 cents to print. Both numbers are reasonable.
The Pixma iP4500 offers a fairly basic feature set. The only connection option is USB, though you can network the printer using a print server. It offers up a built-in duplexer for automatic double-sided prints, though the print driver gives you the option of manual duplex print jobs. The iP4500 lacks memory card slots, but it does offer a PictBridge USB port for printing directly from PictBridge cameras and devices. The driver offers the same options as the driver for the iP3500: namely, the ability to create print profiles for common print jobs; photo manipulations options; and paper and source options.
The Pixma iP4500 is a bit on the expensive side for a general-purpose, single-function printer, so we had limited models on hand for comparison. It stood up well to the competition overall. It printed black text at a rate of 8.25 pages per minute, slower than the office-oriented HP Officejet Pro K5400, but faster than the home-oriented HP Deskjet 6940. It was much slower with graphics, scoring just 2.47ppm, a far cry from the HP Pro K5400's 6.21ppm. But the Canon excelled at fast 4x6 photo prints, clocking 2.66ppm, over a full page faster than the Pro K5400 and more than five times faster than the Deskjet 6940. The iP4500 was also faster than the less expensive iP3500 at all print tasks.
The Canon Pixma iP4500 is an all-around good printer. The text prints were nicely dark, though close inspection revealed some jagged edges that could be cleaned up. The color graphics print showed pleasing saturation and sharp details in the photo elements, though the color gradients looked a bit faded and the same issue with slightly jagged edges cropped up. The 4x6 print was good overall. We liked the sharp details and general quality of the image, but the flesh tones were a bit washed out and could use a bump of warmth. Overall, the printer's quality is great for everyday home printing--we found it to be slightly better than the print quality offered by the iP3500.
Service and support
Canon offers a standard one-year warranty for the Pixma iP3500. Toll-free phone support is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to midnight PT and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. E-mail support is available 24-7 via a Web-based form. Canon's standard online support options include downloadable drivers and software, manuals, and FAQs.