Canon Pixma iP5200R review

Price when reviewed

A few years ago, inkjet manufacturers focused all their efforts into print quality, but that’s pretty much cracked now. Speed was the next target for improvement, and Canon’s current range has virtually cleared that obstacle too.

Canon Pixma iP5200R review

The iP5200R is no exception, and the speed at which it churns out photos and text is quite a sight to behold. Using the Easy-PhotoPrint utility, it’s simple to select a series of photos, choose the paper size and have your prints in minutes. In fact, a single 6 x 4in print at best quality takes just 36 seconds (exactly as Canon claims), while an A4 image takes just one minute, 38 seconds. Text speed is solid at 4.8ppm for normal quality, but switch to draft and you’ll see a blistering 15ppm – only the HP 8250 is quicker.

There are five individual ink tanks – cyan, magenta, yellow and two blacks – one large pigmented tank for text and a dye-based black for photos. Canon calls it ChromaLife100, even if it’s completely different from the iP2200’s system. And, although you might think the 100 refers to 100 years of fade resistance, prints will only last 30 years before appearing faded.

This should be more than enough for most people, though, and in spite of the absence of light cyan or magenta inks, print quality was surprisingly good. You’d be fooled into thinking the mono text printouts had come from a laser printer – characters were that sharp and black.

Our only gripe with photos (just like every other Canon printer on test) was that colours were over-saturated, but you can adjust colour settings manually in the driver. Apart from slight stepping in the fades of our photomontage (which isn’t noticeable in real photos), the iP5200R’s photomontage was a decent effort with hardly any noticeable grain. Plus, monochrome photos are accurately reproduced with no noticeable colour cast.

While the iP5200R doesn’t have any card readers or TFT, it has a PictBridge port. Plus, most enthusiasts will appreciate the choice of interfaces. On the side are USB 2 and Ethernet ports, while the integrated Wi-Fi means you can share the printer among several computers without needing any wires. Setting up the wireless interface has to be done initially over the USB cable, but the automatic installer made light work of configuration in our setup.

Then there’s paper handling. The standard rear tray will take 150 sheets of plain paper, while the lower tray can be used for plain or photo paper down to 6 x 4in, making life a lot easier than printers with only a single input tray.

Considering you can print onto CDs and DVDs, the iP5200R is a very versatile printer. For discs that can’t be printed on, Canon bundles CD LabelPrint, which makes the task of printing onto sticky label sheets simple.

Running costs are ultimately the only drawback. If you want an inkjet for the occasional photo and odd document, the Pixma iP5200R’s integrated Wi-Fi might persuade you that the low efficiency isn’t a major problem. However, if you plan to use your inkjet relatively heavily, the cost of ink will soon mount up, making the HP Photosmart 8450 a more tempting proposition. It costs the same to buy and, while it can’t match the Canon for speed, it costs significantly less for A4 and 6 x 4in photos.

Running costs

Great print quality and quick printing make the Canon iP5200R a highly attractive choice, and before we finished our long-term tests it looked certain to join our A List.

Interestingly, the iP5200 has two print heads. The square one is used by the colour cartridges and the CLI-8BK photo black cartridge for colour and photo printing, while the tall thin print head is used solely by the PGI-5BK cartridge for black text. The large print head has little effect on print speed, but it means you won’t be wasting pigmented black ink while printing photos.

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