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We don't review very many single-function inkjet printers these days because the price for multifunctional "all-in-one" (AIO) devices has dropped below $150. Enter the $100 Canon Pixma iP4820, an attractive inkjet printer that serves its purpose for photo-quality snapshots and documents with graphics but lacks the value of similarly priced AIOs with scan and fax functionality, not to mention extras like LCD displays and wireless connectivity. Rather than spend your money on the single-purpose Pixma iP4820, we recommend the Epson WorkForce 520 or even the Canon Pixma MP495--both perform the same functions as the iP4820, but add extras that make printing easier and save you time and money along the way.
The Pixma iP4820 features a new shape for Canon but incorporates folding trays to keep the footprint small and out of the way while not in use. The printer measures 17 inches long and just less than12 inches wide with the trays folded, making it easy for anyone to transport around the home or office. Canon also kept the weight down to 12.6 pounds by not including the fax machine and copier components that typically weigh down all-in-one devices.
The printer doesn't have many buttons to speak of--there's a power button and a cancel button with an LED to alert you to paper jams. There's also a small PictBridge port below but you can't plug a regular USB flash drive into it, nor is there a media card reader for direct printing; both of these features are included in the $130 Epson WorkForce 520.
The lack of an LCD can hurt your workflow if you're used to previewing images on a display. Canon includes a copy of its Easy-PhotoPrint EX and Full HD Movie Print applications, which let you manipulate photos and still images from movies, and create photo albums and creative projects like calendars and stickers.
Dual 150-sheet paper trays fold out of the top and bottom of the iP4820 and adjust forward and backward to accept a range of paper sizes from 4x6-inch snapshots all the way up to legal-size sheets. We like that the 300-sheet overall paper capacity means you can put different-size media in the two compartments, but the trays themselves feel cheap and easily breakable, especially the translucent bottom cover that rests freely on top of the tray, just waiting for someone to accidentally knock it loose.
Setting up the printer is simple because it only connects to a host computer through USB. The installation disc provides onscreen instructions to guide you, but most of the drivers install automatically with little user interaction aside from the physical act of plugging in the USB cable, after you purchase it, that is--Canon inconveniently leaves it out of the package.
The lid of the iP4820 lifts to reveal the five-ink cartridge bay for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink tanks, and there's another high-capacity black cartridge in there that only draws ink when you toggle the "monochrome" mode within the driver preferences. This convenient feature saves you money in the long term by extending the longevity of the smaller black cartridge, since it only gets depleted in color print mode.
We're surprised by the disparity between the iP4820's average black-and-white document print speeds and its sluggish snapshot color photo output. It kept up with the competition in the presentation speed test in which we timed how long it took to print a 10-page Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, but finished last in the color graphics speed test. The $80 Canon Pixma MP495 completed all the tests significantly faster than the more expensive model, and the MP495 provides the benefit of Wi-Fi and copy/scan functionality to boot.
|Presentation speed (PPM)||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed (PPM)||Text speed (PPM)|
Unlike in the speed tests, the Pixma iP4820 performed well in our quality examination, printing solid, dense text with fully formed characters down to five-point font size. The color graphics test emerged solid and evenly distributed, but we did notice small portions with more neutral tones than the original, specifically in areas with gradual color gradients. To confirm, we repeated the test in three iterations and the imperfections were consistent throughout, although likely unnoticeable to most eyes. In most cases, snapshot photos came out with vivid coloration and even tone.
Service and support
The Pixma iP4820 is backed by Canon's standard one-year limited warranty program that includes InstantExchange and a year of toll-free phone support. In addition, the product page for the printer features frequently asked questions, registration, recycling information, driver downloads, and other information.
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