Canon Pixma iP4500 Inkjet PrinterFaster than even some low-end lasers, the Pixma iP4500 inkjet printer generates great text and photos.
Canon's Pixma iP4500 inkjet printer rivals low-end color laser printers in speed. It also leaves many higher-priced inkjet competitors in the dust.
The Pixma iP4500 spit out text at an average rate of 11.7 pages per minute (ppm), and it printed complex graphics at speeds ranging from 2.8 ppm to 3.7 ppm. The text quality on plain paper was very nice--crisp, black, and just a little jagged in more-complicated fonts. While a laser could print better text, it couldn't compete with the Pixma iP4500's photos: Though color graphics tended to be yellowish (on both plain and photo paper), only flesh tones suffered from the excess attention--everything else looked vivid and natural. The Printers section of our How We Test primer has more information on these tests.
The ink mix benefits output quality. Dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow, and black offer a broad palette; a second, pigment-based black looks darker and lasts longer. Each ink's separate tank rests in a clearly visible slot above a permanent printhead. As other Canon printers have had for a while, an LED on the cartridge lights red when it's properly inserted--an odd color for affirmative feedback, but still informative. The Pixma iP4500's dye-based black costs 3.1 cents per page; a page with cyan, magenta, and yellow as well costs 8.4 cents. The pigment-based black, used only for plain text, lasts 5475 pages, or just a fraction of a penny per page.
The Pixma iP4500's black, shiny box seems to burst into action at your command. Push a button, and doors and flaps open to reveal the typical top input and front output trays, plus a second input tray underneath the main body. The latter takes a few, basic media sizes (letter, A4, A5). When the lower input tray is in use, it extends a bit from the front of the printer. The Pixma iP4500 can print on both sides of the page automatically from either input tray--a nice feature at this price point. The scattered control buttons were my primary design complaint: All have icons instead of plain-English labels, so they're harder to identify.
The bundled software (loaded when you install the Pixma iP4500) includes Easy Photo-Print EX software for organizing, editing, and printing photos, as well as Canon's My Printer application for adjusting settings and troubleshooting. A thorough on-screen manual explains both the printer and its software thoroughly. A Solutions Menu interface centralizes access to all of these items.
The Canon Pixma iP4500 offers excellent speed, sharp print quality, and useful features for a good price. If your color output tends more toward photos and graphics than charts and memos, it could be a good alternative to an entry-level color laser.