Canon Pixma mini 220 review

£50
Price when reviewed

Canon’s new Pixma mini 220 offers an inkjet alternative to the Selphy ES1, which uses a dye-sub engine. The fine print head has a 2pl drop size, which means grain isn’t as much of a problem as it is with the HP’s cartridge, which has a drop size almost three times larger.

Considering the £50 price, we were impressed with the 220’s quality. Photos were on a par with those from the Canon Pixma iP3300, another printer that uses just three colours when printing photos. Not only were colours accurate and well saturated, but there was no grain or banding. Shadow and mid-tone detail were excellent compared to the Sony, which turned our detailed flower petals into solid pink blobs.

Another advantage the mini 220 holds over the more expensive Selphy is print permanence. Although prints faded slightly over our ten-week test, they looked almost perfect compared to the ES1’s seriously degraded examples.

Unlike the upright Selphy ES1, the 220 has a horizontal paper path and its side pods make it look like a tank. The input and output trays are at the front, like an HP, but the paper shoots out of the back (like a dye-sub printer) and then reverses through the print mechanism to end up on top of the input tray.

Above the card readers, which support all major card types, is a release for the lid, which opens to reveal the minuscule BCI-16 cartridge. You can buy a photo value pack for £19 inc VAT, which includes two BCI-16 cartridges, plus 100 sheets of 6 x 4in everyday photo paper, so prints cost 19p each.

You can print via infrared, from a PC or directly from a PictBridge camera. Bluetooth is optional, but there’s no battery option. The power supply is integrated, which is neater than others and makes up for the rather large 220 x 310mm footprint.

On top is a 2.5in screen, but the quality is very poor. Viewing angles are narrow and subtle variations of colour aren’t shown, so faces look blotchy. The menus are easy enough to use, and a neat feature prints a series of nine images with different colour balances. You simply select the one you like most to optimise colour accuracy. Delve into the settings and you can enable or disable face brightener, red-eye correction, vivid photo and noise reduction. All work to an extent, but are no substitute for editing in Photoshop.

Prints emerge in just over a minute, which makes this Pixma slower than the speedy Epson. But at only £50, the Canon is still a fine alternative to the PictureMate.

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