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Canon i960 review:

Canon i960

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Canon i960

(Part #: 8538A001AA) Released: 22 Sep 2003
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The Good Excellent photo and graphics print quality; fast photo print speeds; relatively inexpensive compared with the competition.

The Bad Slow text print speeds; high ink consumption.

The Bottom Line The i960 prints good-looking photos quickly, but it's since been surpassed by newer technologies.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Support 7.0

Review Summary

Editors' note:
The ratings for this product have been updated to reflect changes in the competitive landscape for photo printers.


Canon's i960 photo printer occupies the bottom rung of the enthusiast ladder. It's an inexpensive choice for those who want to toy with digital photography and prefer a quick, above-average output option. The Canon i960 looks fancier than its bargain-priced sibling, the Canon i560. At 16.5 inches wide by 12.2 inches deep by 7.3 inches high, the overall shape is that of a classic inkjet, with a curved, brushed-silver belly offset by smoky-gray, translucent accents on the front panel and the paper guides. The control panel buttons (power and resume printing/paper feed) are wedge-shaped, and they are arranged in an arc along the right front corner of the printer. Unfortunately, the flashy design doesn't change the fact that the 150-sheet paper input guide lies flat on your work surface and doesn't fit neatly into the body of the printer, as it does on the i560.

Installing the Canon i960 is simple; an included, poster-size sheet describes everything. There's also an onscreen manual that installs from the included CD. The i960 is compatible with both Mac (OS 8.6 and higher) and PC (Windows 95 and higher). It has a regular and a high-speed USB port but no parallel port. It also has a PictBridge-compatible USB port on the front panel for printing directly from a PictBridge-compatible digital camera or camcorder. Currently, only a few manufacturers support this standard (Canon is among them), so check &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecipa%2Ejp%2Fpictbridge%2Findex%5Fe%2Ehtml">online before you buy.

If the name doesn't give it away, a look under the hood will reveal that the Canon i960 is intended specifically for photo printing. The printer uses six individual ink cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, plus photo-cyan and photo-magenta. The Canon i960's drivers are full-featured and easy to use. In addition to basic adjustments, such as paper orientation and number of copies, the six tabbed subcategories let you specify a paper type, select borderless printing, or choose an effect for your photo, such as simulating an illustration. More-advanced users can calibrate individual colors to their liking or save customized print settings for complex jobs. Most of the tabs show a picture of the printer that changes to reflect driver settings. The Main tab (where you select media type, print quality, and so on) also has a step-by-step Print Advisor that walks you through creating various print projects such as photos or posters.

The included CD contains a handful of basic applications to facilitate photo printing. These include ZoomBrowser EX/Photo Record, for importing, editing, and printing photos from a digital camera; PhotoStitch, for making photo panoramas; Easy-PhotoPrint Plus, which helps you print borderless photos, gives you a plethora of layout options, and lets you do simple editing such as red-eye correction and digital face smoothing; and Easy-WebPrint, which autoadjusts the layouts of Web pages for easy printing. The Canon i960's overall performance favors photos and graphics over text. The i960 printed our test text document at a plodding 2 pages per minute (ppm), significantly slower than the Canon i560. The i960's photo speed was better; it printed our 8x10-inch test photo at 1.98 minutes per page (mpp)--almost a minute slower than the i560's results, but noticeably faster than those of the Epson Stylus C84 and the HP Photosmart 7960.

The i960's print quality followed the same theme. Photo printing was superb. Skin tones, myriad details, and tricky juxtapositions in our high-resolution test photo were as smooth and lifelike as those in film photos and equal to the HP Photosmart 7960's samples. Graphics printed on inkjet paper were also excellent. The color and black-shaded elements were extremely smooth, the photo elements appeared realistic, and details were crisp. The i960's text quality was good, although heavy ink usage made letters look a little fuzzy--and they were even more so on plain paper.

The i960's six separate ink cartridges (about $12 each) should be economical, because you replace only the ink that runs out. Unfortunately, the printer's high ink consumption works against you. The cost to print our 8.5x11-inch test photo on the Canon i960 was $1.30, or about twice that of the i560. Printing a 4x6-inch photo will cost about 75 percent less.

Inkjet printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Canon i560
6.8 
Epson Stylus C84
4.6 
HP Photosmart 7960
2.2 
Canon i960
2.0 

Inkjet color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Canon i560
1.1 
Canon i960
1.9 
Epson Stylus C84
2.6 
HP Photosmart 7960
5.3 

Inkjet printer quality
•Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Coated paper
 text
 Coated paper
 graphics
 8.5x11 color image
 on photo paper
 Canon i560 •••• •• •••
 Canon i960 ••• •••• ••••
 Epson Stylus C84 ••• ••• •••
 HP Photosmart 7960 ••• ••• ••••
Canon's support policies for the i960 are typical. The printer comes with a one-year warranty. Phone support via a toll number is free for that year; afterward, you'll pay $10 per call. Phone support hours are 8 a.m. to midnight from Monday through Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays ET. Canon's online resources include driver downloads, setup instructions, FAQs, an interactive troubleshooting engine, e-mail support, a knowledge base, and access to supplies and documentation.
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