Pros: Above average photo quality, multiple direct print options
Cons: Below average speed, does not use separate ink cartridges, no LCD screen
The PIXMA iP6210D is Canon's recent entry into the already crowded budget inkjet photo printer market, and at $100 MSRP is priced similarly to competitors offerings. With the right type of photo paper, the company's PIXMA line of photo printers is capable of producing near lab-quality photo prints and can also handle full-page text and other print jobs.
The iP6210D is targeted toward people who want an inexpensive and capable photo printer with a wide variety of print methods through the typical USB connection, directly from a digital camera or from a Bluetooth enabled device.
Basic information on Inkjet Technology
The first step in the printer purchasing decision is deciding what type of printing technology will work best for you. The two dominant types of printers available in the market today are inkjet and laser. Inkjet is the most common type used today by consumers, as it is ideal for most people who plan to use their printer for photos, text documents and the occasional slideshow / presentation.
Here are some of the basic advantages that make inkjet printers are so popular:
- Inexpensive --- Inkjet printers are almost always less expensive than laser printers.
- Color --- Almost all new inkjets offer the capability to print photos, presentations or other pictures in full color.
- Easy to use --- Almost all new inkjets are easy to setup and easy to use. With a CD-ROM drive and an available parallel or USB port, it should only take a few minutes to be up and running with an inkjet printer.
However, there are some disadvantages associated with inkjet printers:
- Quality --- Inkjet printers are closing the gap in quality, but laser printers still cannot be beat for crisp, crystal-clear text and images.
- Slower than laser --- Laser printers are typically used in office settings by multiple people, so their printing speed is almost always faster than what you will find with inkjet printers.
- Shorter life cycle --- Again, laser printers are typically used by multiple people and therefore need to be more heavy-duty. Laser printers will usually have a longer life cycle to accommodate the thousands of documents they are expected to print.
- Fewer printing options --- Laser printers often offer advanced features that are sometimes not found in inkjet printers. Examples of these features would be duplexing (printing on both sides of the page), additional paper drawers and capability to run in a networked environment.
Look & Feel and Basic Information of the iP6210D
The iP6210D is a basic looking printer with a fairly small footprint of 17.3"(W) x 6.8"(H) x 10.3"(D) without paper trays extended. It offers a wide array of connection options for printing. The most commonly used is the USB 2.0 port, with connects directly to your PC. It has a direct print port for connecting to a PictBridge compatible camera or DV camcorder. It will also allow printing directly from a Bluetooth enabled device such as a digital camera or cell phone (if you purchase a separate Bluetooth adapter or already have a Bluetooth adapter). Additionally, it offers printing directly from a memory card CF, SD, Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro and SmartMedia cards are all supported.
Canon does not give it a specific page per minute speed rating, but instead states that a 4x6 inch borderless photo can be printed in approximately 60 seconds and an 8.5x11 inch photo can be printed in approximately 2.3 minutes. Maximum resolution, in dots per inch, is rated at 4800 x 1200. It can print on all the various types of paper (Letter, legal, A4, A5, etc.) and can print border-free photos with sizes of 4" x 6", 5" x 7" and 8" x 10". The input paper tray in the top of the printer holds approximately 100 sheets of plain paper. The output paper tray holds approximately 30-40 sheets of plain paper. The output paper tray can be extended out to hold long sheets of paper (for example, legal size) and it can be flipped back up to a closed position when it is not in use. It is compatible with both Windows (98, ME, 2000 or XP) and Mac (OS X 10.2.1 or later). It includes a 1-year limited warranty.
Included in the box
1) PIXMA iP6210D Photo Printer with power cord and paper trays
2) Ink cartridges: CL-51 Color, CL-52 Photo
3) Quick start guide
4) CD with driver and software
5) Canon photo paper sample pack
Note that everything you need to get started is included in the box EXCEPT the cable. Unless you are printing directly from a digital camera or a Bluetooth enabled device, you will need a USB cable to connect the printer to your computer. If you need to purchase a USB cable, take note of the distance between where youll place your printer and the back of your computer. Youll need to know the approximate distance before you go shopping so that the USB cable you purchase is long enough.
Installation of the iP6210D was completely painless and only took about 10 minutes. The process involved unpacking the printer, installing the Color ink cartridge and the Photo ink cartridge, installing the driver and the software, and then connecting the printer to your PC with a USB cable. Once the printer is set up and connected to your PC, the next step is to align the print heads. This, too, is a simple process. After loading a piece of paper into the input tray, the printer recognizes that it needs to auto align the print heads and the LCD message prompts you to select Auto align. After confirming that the printer should perform an auto align, it takes approximately 5 minutes for the printer to perform the alignment process and print out a test pattern. Once the test pattern is printed, you are finally ready to print photos or other documents.
My Use of the iP6210D for Printing Text Documents
The printer has been used to print about 8 text-only print jobs, and I have found the results to be average. Using both the Standard print quality setting and the High print quality setting, the printed text was a solid black color without any inconsistencies in the level of blackness. The letters did not exhibit any jaggedness or unevenness in their display, and were fairly crisp in appearance. The text was not as crisp as other inkjet printers I have used, but it was clear and easy to ready. Changing the print quality to a custom setting called half-toning mode resulted in a lighter black color that appeared closer to a gray color. This will help save ink if you are printing something that does not need to look great, but it certainly makes it more difficult to read and I would recommend just leaving the quality at the Standard setting.
One area where the iP6210D is lacking in is speed. Using the printer to print out text documents, it took between 40-50 seconds to print a one-page document. For larger print jobs, the speed per page would increase to about 5 ppm. This is sub-standard for a $100 inkjet printer, and you can find other inkjets in this price range that beat the iP6210D in text printing speed.
After printing these 8 text-only print jobs, the software still shows that the black ink cartridge is 3 / 4 full. This is helpful for knowing when to re-order ink cartridges. From my estimation on the number of pages Ive printed, I would say that the black ink is lasting just as long as it has with the other inkjet printers I have used. I have not yet had to replace any of the ink cartridges.
The noise level when printing text is very similar to other newer model inkjet printers that I have used. Canon rates the noise level at 43 dB in the High quality mode, which is a bit louder than the standard for consumer inkjet printers. It is by no means loud, and it does not distract you from continuing to do other work while printing.
My Use of the iP6210D for Printing Photos
Ive printed about 6 pictures on the iP6210D using both plain paper and the included glossy photo paper. I have been pleased with the quality of the resulting pictures. Printing on glossy photo paper, the smaller sized 4x6 pictures, as well as larger 5x7 and 8x10 pictures, had clear images that did not appear to have washed-out colors. The images did not appear grainy or include any other artifacts that would distract from their appearance. The colors were consistently vivid and natural looking, the faces of the subjects were bright and the end result was impressive. Overall, the photo print quality was excellent and compares favorably to other inkjets in the $100 price range.
The iP6210D fared a bit better in speed when printing photos, as it nearly lived up to the rated speed claims from Canon. It was able to print a 4x6 inch picture in 1 minute and 5 seconds, and an 8.5x11 inch picture in 2 minutes and 35 seconds. These speeds were attained printing in the Standard quality setting. This is on par with other inkjet printers in the $100 range, but the iP6210D will certainly not win any awards for being the fastest kid on the block.
I found the border-free print option to be useful for printing photos, but no more useful than any of the other inkjet printers I have tested. This option allows you to print pictures in typical frame sizes - 4"x6", 5"x7" and 8"x10". Once you finish printing, the pictures can be easily framed or added to your photo album.
The noise level when printing photos is essentially the same as when printing text.
Unfortunately, I was not able to test the PictBridge or the Bluetooth function because my digital camera is not PictBridge I dont have a device that is Bluetooth compatible. I also did not choose to purchase the Bluetooth adapter from Canon. I was, however, able to test the direct printing from a memory card using my 256MB CF card. Utilizing this method of printing also gave me the opportunity to test the automatic enhancement features that are touted to:
- Automatically brighten your subjects faces
- Correct for red eye
- Increase sharpness
I found that the automatic enhancements worked fairly well and did a decent job of reducing red eye and producing clear, bright photos. The images looked as good as they would if I had spent 30 seconds using an image editor to reduce the red-eye and brighten the faces. I found that it was a useful feature that helps save time if you are printing directly from a digital camera or a memory card, because I didnt need to spend time enhancing each image using image editing software.
However, when printing directly from a memory card, I found it extremely cumbersome to print individual pictures due to the lack of an LCD screen or other display to preview the images. Without an LCD screen it was next to impossible to know exactly which picture was going to be printed. Unless you want to print all of the pictures on your memory card (which is easy to do by selecting Print All Photos), the direct print from a memory card is not a useful feature.
Overall, the iP6210D is a competent budget inkjet printer. With the current $30 rebate that Canon is offering, it is a solid choice for budget minded shoppers. I found that it produces high quality photos that are exceptionally clear and vibrant, and it does a fine job of printing text as well. With a wide array of direct print options, it offers a lot of freedom to produce high quality photos without needing to be tethered to a PC.
The slow print speed is the largest area of improvement needed in the iP6210D, and I also didnt like the fact that it utilizes only 2 ink cartridges. Using only 2 ink cartridges means that youre more likely to run out of one particular color of ink before another color, and instead of purchasing a cheaper ink cartridge for that one specific color you are forced to purchase a more expensive cartridge to be used for all colors. Its a ploy that many inkjet printer manufacturers use, and I am very disappointed to see Canon utilizing this design.
My other inkjet printer reviews:
- Canon PIXMA iP4200 Inkjet Printer
- Epson Stylus C88 Inkjet Printer