Canon Pixma iP5200R review

Price when reviewed

When it comes to printing photos, nothing has been able to surpass Epson’s superb R800 in the last ten months. However, several excellent alternative premium inkjet printers are starting to appear. Last month, HP’s Photosmart 8250 won a PC Pro Recommended award, and now Canon is upping the stakes with its iP5200R.

It takes five ink cartridges – cyan, magenta, yellow and two blacks – which slot into place triggering a red light in each holder; you’ll know instantly if you install them incorrectly. Ease of use is clearly a priority, and this continues through the simple installation utility: choose to connect via USB 2, Ethernet or integrated Wi-Fi via an access point and it will do the hard work for you.

Speed is another key strength. The iP5200R produced a 6 x 4in borderless colour print at maximum quality in just 56 seconds, almost a minute quicker than the HP and Epson. This continued with an A4 photo montage, also at best quality, taking just one minute, 38 seconds to print – again, a minute quicker than its key rivals.

Lower the quality and 6 x 4in prints will take just 36 seconds. We wouldn’t recommend it for any important pictures, though, as the drop in quality is noticeable with a significant amount of grain on the images; if every second counts, the Photosmart 8250 is a better choice, churning out good-quality 6 x 4in photos in under 15 seconds.

At first glance, the Canon’s colours seem vivid and spectacular. This is due to its ContrastPLUS technology, with the additional dye-based black ink bringing extra depth to the images. There’s no doubt it works – the contrast is superb and photos have a warmth to them – but the colours in prints are slightly too vivid, turning oranges into reds and blues into violets. For accurate colour reproduction, the R800 is still top.

The iP5200R is a more versatile printer, though. Canon’s claims of 15ppm for A4 mono printing proved spot-on, although the best quality setting will slow that to about 5ppm. Text is clear, and draft printing is good enough for use at home or for internal business use; we just wouldn’t send it out to clients.

As with the R800, it’s possible to print direct to compatible CDs and DVDs, with a suitable tray included in the box. There are a number of ways to print photos too. Obviously, you can print from your PC, but there’s also a comprehensive card reader – although, unlike the HP Photosmart 8250, it doesn’t include a TFT to view the results – while a PictBridge connecter allows you to hook up a compatible camera directly. The bundled software is useful too, particularly the Easy-PhotoPrint tool, which will make the whole process painless for beginners.

Considering its speed, quality and features, £148 isn’t a high price to pay; just note that ink costs are higher than HP’s Photosmart. If you want the absolute best quality photo printing available, stick with the Epson R800, which has the edge due to its colour accuracy. But if you’d rather save £50 and get a wireless speed demon of a printer, the Canon Pixma iP5200R is waiting for you with open trays.

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