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i70 Color Bubble Jet Printer review: i70 Color Bubble Jet Printer

i70 Color Bubble Jet Printer

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
5 min read
No matter how small it may be, a portable printer isn't much good if it can't perform. Fortunately, speedwise, the tiny $300 Canon i70 beats many full-sized inkjets. In fact, it's one of the fastest and most compact inkjets we've had in CNET Labs so far. It's also packed with handy features, such as the ability to print borderless photos. What's more, the i70 connects directly to digital cameras, and its text and graphics print quality does not disappoint. The i70's unremarkable photo quality won't appeal to shutterbugs, but for general office workers with little desk space or for folks with a packed travel roster, the i70 is your best bet. The downside: once you buy all of the necessary accessories, including a battery pack, the i70 costs more than any other portable CNET has reviewed, including the $350 HP Deskjet 450cbi. At only 3.97 pounds, the i70 is housed in a sleek, petite case that measures 12.4 by 6.9 by 2 inches. The paper intake tray, which also serves as the printer's top cover, can hold up to 30 sheets of plain paper and supports various paper sizes, including A4 (regular letter) and smaller.

Lilliputian inkjet.

Vital add-ons cost a bundle.

To accommodate those who print a lot while on the go, the i70 lets you buy and attach a few useful accessories. The Portable Kit (add around $90), which consists of a lithium-ion battery and a battery holder that attaches easily to the back of the printer, unchains the printer from wall outlets. Even with this kit, the i70 is still compact and light enough to easily slip into most any briefcase or tote bag. Alternatively, you can purchase the Cradle Kit for another $140, which includes the Portable Kit and a charging cradle that adds convenience to the charging. With the extra expense, however, the i70 is among the most costly portable inkjets that CNET has reviewed.

IR port for wireless connections.
Setting up the i70 is an absolute breeze, thanks to its well-illustrated, step-by-step setup poster. Likewise, the included software CD fires up a program that automatically guides you through the whole process. If you need more help, the quick-start guide contains more detailed information about every task you can do with the printer.
The printer connects to your PC or Mac via a USB port and works with Windows 98/Me/2000/XP and Mac OS 8.6 or later. Unfortunately, you won't find the much needed USB cable in the box, so you'll have to purchase that yourself. A bonus for Windows users: If your PC supports infrared, you can also connect to the i70 wirelessly through its built-in IrDA port.

In spite of its size, the printer ships with high-end features once found only in Canon's flagship inkjets, such as the i850. First off, the i70 can print high-resolution photos up to 4,800x1,200dpi, presently the highest setting for consumer printers. This printer also has the ability to produce true borderless photo prints in various sizes, including 4x6 inches, 5x7 inches, and 8.5x11 inches.
Travelers will particularly appreciate the i70's camera port for Bubble Jet Direct printing, which enables you to print directly from a number of Canon digital cameras without a computer go-between. Since the i70 has no LCD panel, however, you must rely on your camera's setting options to decide how you want your picture to come out. If you use SmartMedia to expand your camera's storage capacity, however, you may be out of luck; the i70 doesn't have a SmartMedia port for printing from those cards.

Camera port for PC-free printing.

Itty-bitty ink cartridges.

The i70 uses advanced MicroFine Droplet Technology, which combines microscopic ink droplets and a precision nozzle to enhance the printout quality and optimize ink consumption. In our tests, this technology seemed to produce the intended effect, as far as text and graphics were concerned.
The printer also ships with a generous packet of print-related and photo-processing software, including ZoomBrowser Ex and PhotoRecord (Windows) for managing your photos. Easy-WebPrint and Easy-PhotoPrint (Windows) simplify and enhance the process of printing either photos or Web pages. PhotoStitch for both Windows and Mac links photos to create panoramic shots. ImageBrowser (Mac) is basically the Mac version of ZoomBrowser.

Quite frankly, the i70's performance floored the CNET Labs testers. The printer pumped out 7.5 pages of text per minute--only 0.09 second slower than the all-time speed champion, Lexmark J110-usb, a business-class inkjet from 2001, but nearly 6 seconds faster than its direct competitor, the HP Deskjet 450cbi. Furthermore, the i70 printed an 8.5x11-inch photo in 2.79 minutes, definitely above the average speed.
Inkjet printer text speed
Pages per minute (longer bars indicate better performance)
Canon i70 color Bubble Jet
HP Deskjet 450cbi
Inkjet printer color photo speed
Minutes to print a color photograph (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Canon i70 color Bubble Jet
HP Deskjet 450cbi
But the i70 isn't just fast, it also excels in text and graphics print quality. On plain paper, text looked sharp with just a little fuzziness here and there with small fonts. Plain-paper graphics appeared bright and detailed, with only a bit of random fading on some of the images. When we switched to Canon's recommended high-resolution inkjet paper, both text and graphics improved in quality. Neither was perfect, naturally; we could still pick out some hairy letters.
Inkjet printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics  Photo
Plain paper  Coated paper  Plain paper  Coated paper  Photo paper 
 Canon i70 color Bubble Jet ••• ••• ••• ••• ••
 HP Deskjet 450cbi ••• •• •• •• ••
On the other hand, the photo prints were not as impressive in our tests. Excellent color matching was overshadowed by the soft focus and the grainy texture. But, considering the size of the printer and the fact that the i70 isn't marketed as a photo printer, the picture quality is acceptable.
The i70 comes with Canon's one-year limited warranty and the company's InstantExchange policy, which entitles you to receive a replacement by the next business day. Once the new printer arrives, you'll have 10 days to return the defective unit in the replacement's shipping materials. Under the warranty, you can contact Canon's free, phone tech support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET. We tried the 800 number and, after less than three minutes, reached a technician who was helpful and knowledgeable. At Canon's Web site, you can download updated drivers, user guides, read FAQs, and search for troubleshooting solution in a well-organized knowledge base.

i70 Color Bubble Jet Printer

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Support 9