Review of the HP LaserJet Enterprise M653x at PCMag

  • PROS

    Very fast. Good overall print quality. Strong paper-input capacity. Very-high-yield toner cartridges. Customizable control panel. Memory is upgradeable to 2GB. Optional hard drive.

  • CONS

    Expensive. Running costs can be high. Subpar photo output. Software and driver installation via the web is problematic.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    HP’s LaserJet Enterprise M653x prints terrific-looking text and graphics, and so-so photos, at an impressive clip, but its running costs are a bit high—especially for such a pricey color laser printer.

HP’s LaserJet Pro laser printers are designed primarily to support small-to-medium-size offices, workgroups, and businesses consisting of about five or so users. The company’s LaserJet Enterprise models, such as the LaserJet Enterprise M653x standalone color laser printer ($2,149), however, are aimed more toward larger offices, workgroups, and corporations with up to 40 or so networked users. In many ways—high print quality, high maximum-duty cycles, and expandability—these two LaserJet brands are often similar.The Enterprise machines, however, are typically faster; they come with significantly higher recommended monthly print volumes, access to higher-yield toner cartridges that deliver lower running costs, and, of course higher purchase prices. The M653x provides all that and more, but given its high price, slightly too-high cost per page, and subpar photo output, it comes up a bit short to make it a top pick mid-to-heavy volume color laser printer for larger workgroups, offices, and enterprises.Read the entire review at PCMag


 

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Review of HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One at Computer ShopperIt’s been a couple of years since we’ve reviewed one of HP’s Envy-brand all-in-one (AIO) inkjet printers. The last one, the Envy 7640 e-All-in-One, was a predecessor to (or at least, in the same series as) the model we’re reviewing here today, the $199-list HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One.

Why has it been so long? Well, frankly, there just haven’t been new Envy models to review until now, in late summer 2017. Part of a multi-device rollout that includes the $129-MSRP Envy Photo 6200 All-in-One and the $149-list Envy Photo 7100 All-in-One, the Envy Photo 7855 is the flagship model in this new line.

As the highest-numbered AIO of the bunch, the Envy Photo 7855, as you’d expect, costs the most and gets the most robust set of features. It has, for instance, an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage originals to the scanner, rather than making you place them on the platen one at a time. In fact, the Envy Photo 7855’s feature set, which includes several functions its less-expensive siblings don’t have—memory device support, fax, Ethernet, an automatic extending output tray, and support for legal-size paper—is somewhat lopsided, especially given the $50 list-price difference between it and the next-step-down Envy Photo 7100.

We’ll take a closer look at the Photo 7855’s features in the next section. As context, first: By positioning these new Envy models as photo printers, HP has put them toe-to-toe with some formidable competition from two of its major competitors, Canon and Epson. The competing families are, namely, Canon’s photo-centric Pixma TS-series and Epson’s Expression Photo models. These include the six-ink Canon Pixma TS9020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One and the five-ink Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One.

These, and several others in both Canon’s and Epson’s stables of consumer-grade photo inkjets, churn out superb photos. One of the questions addressed in the Output Quality section near the end of this review is whether HP’s more traditional four-ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) Envy Photo models are capable of the same brilliant and highly detailed photo output as its five- and six-ink competitors are.

From HP’s POV, the company says a reformulated black ink and some other tweaks make these new photo-centric HP AIOs highly capable photograph printers, too. That said, these so-called photo printers don’t use separate cartridges for each ink, with HP instead deploying a two-cartridge system consisting of one filled with black ink and another holding the other three inks. That’s a system most other inkjet makers have gotten away from, primarily because when one of the reservoirs on the three-ink tank empties before the other two, the entire cartridge must be discarded, thereby wasting ink.

HP says that it has successfully addressed this issue with a new technology it calls Active Ink Balancing Technology, or AIB. According to HP, AIB “…tracks how you are printing. If you are printing a lot of magenta, for instance, it would use CY [cyan and yellow inks], then, on non-PQ [Printer Quality] needed projects (like a word document, not a photo) so that your colors in the IPH [cartridge] all run out closer together.”

We have no scientific way to test this, of course. However, in answer to our question, “What if the user prints a lot of images containing high concentrations of blue sky or water, thereby requiring a disproportionate amount of cyan ink (or other like scenarios)?” HP said that AIB technology can’t compensate for extreme situations like this. In other words, it can’t perform miracles.

One thing that most so-called photo printers have in common, including the Envy Photo 7855, is high per-page ink costs. As we’ll discuss later on, though, the Envy Photo 7855 and its siblings are Instant Ink-ready, meaning that they support HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, one of the least-expensive ways that we know of to print photographs. It breaks out like this, but we’ll get into the details later…

HP Envy Photo 7855 (Instant Ink)

And that—the ability to print good-looking photographs for literally a few pennies each—is without question a good reason for choosing the Envy Photo 7855 over its competitors, especially if you intend to print a lot of images. With the Envy Photo 7855, you might give up some image quality, but what you’d save on ink each month (and over the life of the printer) could save you a pile of money over time.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper


 

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Kodak Photo Printer Dock Review at Computer ShopperDedicated photo printers like the $149.90-MSRP Kodak Photo Printer Dock we’re reviewing here today fill a niche, and imaging giant Kodak has played a prominent role in the snapshot-printer market. These relatively small machines that do nothing except churn out snapshots—and often one-size-only snapshots—are not for everyone. But their popularity, as suggested by the fact that most of the major printer makers offer at least one (the Canon Selphy CP1200, part of the long-running Selphy line; the tiny HP Sprocket; and Epson’s 2015 PictureMate 400 Personal Photo Lab, for example) is undeniable.

The appeal of single-minded machines like these isn’t only that they make churning out relatively high-quality photos on demand simple, but most of them—like the Kodak Dock—are small and fairly easy to take with you. Not only are these gadgets easy to use, but replenishing consumables is a snap (though it is, as you’ll see in our discussion later on, somewhat expensive). If you print a lot of photos, dedicated photo printers have some distinct convenience advantages over full-size photo-centric inkjet printers and inkjet all-in-ones (AIOs).

Until fairly recently, though, these machines were designed to work with your desktop PC or on the go with your laptop. As printers in general evolved to become more mobile-device-friendly, with features such as Wi-Fi Direct and mobile apps, so have dedicated photo printers. HP’s Sprocket, for example, is designed to print wallet-size (2×3-inch) photos primarily from social-media sites and your mobile device’s photo albums via Bluetooth.

Kodak Dock (Left Angled Box)

The Kodak Dock takes mobile connectivity to its next logical step. In addition to connecting to your computing devices via USB, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct, the Kodak Dock allows you to dock your smartphone physically with the printer. As you’ll see in the section coming up next, after docking your smartphone up top, it becomes the printer’s control panel, which is actually quite the slick idea.

This is not to say, though, that the Kodak Dock isn’t without its flaws. For example, it can print only 4×6-inch snapshots, and as mentioned, its cost per page, though competitive with those of other gadgets like this, is a bit high. In other words, each photo is somewhat expensive, compared to having them run off at the neighborhood drugstore.

Even so, the Kodak Dock is very easy to use—which is what a lot of people consider important—and it turns out decent-looking photographs. As you read on, you’ll see that it also comes with several impressive and useful features, such as smartphone charging. In no way, however, is the Kodak Dock as handy as a full-featured photo-centric inkjet AIO that can print documents and photos at various sizes, as well as scan and make copies. You can find several good ones, such as the Canon Pixma TS6020 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One, for about the same price as the Kodak Dock.

Kodak Dock (Top Extended)

But then, the Pixma TS6020 and its ilk are not nearly as easy to use, nor can you carry them around with you in your backpack. If finding a way to print good-looking photos simply and easily, especially from your smartphone (and perhaps on the go) is important to you, this Kodak gadget is a nifty little printer designed to do just that.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

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Review and Ratings of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 All-in-One at Computer ShopperIntroduction, Design & Features

It’s been some time (late 2012!) since Epson has updated its WorkForce Pro 4000 series of all-in-one business printers, and the new ones bear little resemblance, in terms of features, price, and appearance, to their predecessors.

The WorkForce Pro WP-4590, for example, had no Wi-Fi connectivity and listed for $499.99, whereas the relatively new WorkForce Pro WF-4720 All-in-One Printer—today’s review model—does support Wi-Fi and it lists for just $199.99. The earlier model was white and way larger, with a control panel dominated by myriad buttons and a keypad. The WF-4720, in contrast, is black, much smaller than the 2012 model, and equipped with a control panel that’s primarily just a color touch screen.

Part of a multi-unit release a few months ago, the WorkForce Pro WF-4720 is the smallest new 4000-series model, in terms of capacity, features, and several other key features. At the same time, Epson also released the more robust WF-4740, as well as a smaller 3000-series model, the WF-3720—which we’ll be reviewing soon. It’s important that you pay attention to their individual feature lists; what you give up for the relatively small difference in list prices among them is significant. Today’s review unit, for instance, comes with only one paper-input source and a manual-duplex-only automatic document feeder (ADF), meaning that the scanner can’t scan two-sided pages without your help. The $299.99-MSRP WF-4740, on the other hand, has two paper cassettes and a larger, auto-duplexing ADF, as well as some other significant differences.

All three WorkForce Pro models do, however, deploy Epson’s now-familiar PrecisionCore inkjet print-head technology, which Epson touts as endowed with “performance beyond laser.” That may sound like huffed-up marketing, but as we’ll get into near the end of this review, this is not an idle boast. Few printers, inkjet or laser, print as well—be it with text, graphics, or photos—as this one.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 (Output)

As we’ll also get into later on, it does so at fairly reasonable per-page ink costs. The numbers are not quite as low as you’d see from one of Brother’s INKvestment Business Smart or Business Smart Plus all-in-ones (AIOs), such as the Brother MFC-J6535DW, or one of Epson’s own EcoTank WorkForce AIOs, such as the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One. But, compared to the WF-4720, there are drawbacks to both of those. The Brother model doesn’t print as well, for one thing, while the EcoTank AIO costs significantly more. In addition, since the ET-4550 is not a WorkForce Pro machine, it comes with only two PrecisionCore print chips, instead of the four chips in the Pro models, making it slower, with slightly inferior print quality. We’ll look into all of this—print quality and running costs—a little deeper as we progress through this review.

Depending on your needs, the WF-4740 may be a better value for your home office or small office. We’ll look more closely at the differences in a moment. Meanwhile, if you don’t print or copy a lot—say, no more than 500 to 1,000 pages per month—and you don’t scan a lot of two-sided multipage documents, the WF-4720 will be an excellent printer choice. It’s small, light, and easy to install and put to work, and it’s not overly expensive to use. Its running costs are, in fact, lower than some close competitors, such as the Canon Maxify MB2120 Wireless Home Office Inkjet and the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One, and it prints a little better than both. The main thing that held it back from becoming an Editors’ Choice is its lack of an auto-duplexing ADF. (Of the two other machines just mentioned, the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank also lacks one, but the OfficeJet Pro 6978 has the goods.)

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

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Review of the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One Printer at PCMagA remake of the Expression ET-2550, the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One Printer ($299.99) is a low-volume inkjet all-in-one printer (AIO) with a feature set that relegates it to light-duty home use. Like Epson’s other “supertank” EcoTank models (and now Canon’s G-series MegaTank printers, including the similarly priced Canon Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer), the basic principle behind the ET-2650 is that you pay more for the product upfront and much less for the ink to keep it running. The ET-2650 performs better than its predecessor, and like all EcoTank models, running costs are quite low. But like the ET-2550 before it, it lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF), an auto-duplexer, and a few other notable features. You give up a lot to print inexpensively, but if basic is all you need, this upgrade is more attractive than the model it replaces.

See the entire review at PCMag

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Read review of the Canon Pixma TS6020 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer at PCMagThe Canon Pixma TS6020 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer ($149.99) is a relatively low-cost and low-volume photo-centric model designed for home use. Compared with the Editors’ Choice Canon Pixma TS8020, which costs only $30 more, you don’t get SD card and near-field communication (NFC) support, and the TS6020 uses five inks rather than six, which can affect print quality. And the absence of an automatic document feeder (ADF) makes it less attractive for home-based business use. Otherwise, the TS6020 is a decent all-in-one printer for low-volume printing of photos and documents for home, family, and student use.

Read the entire review at PCMag

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Review of the Canon Pixma G2200 MegaTank All-in-One at Computer ShopperHP started the present-day ink wars a few years back with its Instant Ink subscription service, which was designed to provide users of specific HP printers with a way to buy modest monthly allotments of ink without going into hock. Epson fired back in a big way with its EcoTank family of all-in-one (AIO) machines (a very different approach, but also a new way of looking at ink), to which Brother, in turn, responded with its INKvestment products. It was just a question of time before inkjet biggie Canon joined the battle, too.

Canon’s MegaTank G-series printers are the first fruits of its own new approach to delivering ink. What started as a simple concept—lower running costs on inkjet printers—has evolved into a whole new way to buy printers. Today’s review unit, Canon’s $269.99-list Pixma G2200 MegaTank All-in-One, is one of the latest to join the race, along with three other G-series models, including the Canon Pixma G4200 Wireless All-in-One we reviewed recently. HP may have started all this, but that company’s Instant Ink service is nothing like what the other three inkjet makers we mentioned above have done. The Brother, Canon, and Epson approaches aren’t subscription-based, but their idea is to sell inkjet printers with much of the profit front-loaded into the price of the printer, rather than selling the machine at a loss and then charging an ongoing premium for the ink.

While their concept is the same, all three companies haven’t approached it in quite the same way. Epson’s EcoTank and Canon’s MegaTank products, for instance, draw their ink from reservoirs that you fill from high-yield bottles, while Brother’s INKvestment machines continue to deploy conventional ink cartridges—high-yield cartridges with low per-page costs, but cartridges just the same—with multiple sets of them bundled with certain models of their printers. In any case, the core idea is consistent: You pay more (sometimes a lot more) for the printers themselves, and less for the ink to keep them running.

Canon’s first round of G-series machines comprises a stand-alone (printer-only, non-AIO) model, the Pixma G1200 MegaTank, and three AIOs: today’s review unit, the Pixma G2200; the Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One; and the flagship model, the Pixma G4200 Wireless All-in-One…

Canon Pixma G2200 MegaTank All-in-One (G-Series Printers)

As we pointed out in our review of the Pixma G4200, even though the G series all use the same print engines and come with the same amount of ink, there’s a huge difference in the feature sets among these four printers. The first two (notice that their names don’t include “Wireless”) don’t have Wi-Fi or support for mobile devices, and the Pixma G4200 is the only one with an automatic document feeder (ADF) for passing multiple-page documents to the scanner. And, of course, the least-expensive, print-only Pixma G1200 doesn’t even have a scanner. Even so, as we’ll dig into in the Output Quality section near the end of this review, text and print quality is exceptional. In addition, the Pixma G2200 and its siblings deliver some of the lowest running costs in not only the inkjet-printer market, but among all consumer and small-business printers we know of. (Only Epson’s comparable EcoTank models are in the same class, in that aspect.)

The Pixma G2200 model, looking past the ink costs, is an interesting model, given how it is fitted out. At a $270 list price, the G2200 is the least-expensive “supertanker”-style AIO we know of (the Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One lists for $10 more), but it and its stand-alone sibling, the Pixma G1200, are two of the very few inkjet printers available these days that don’t support networking and printing from mobile devices. The only way to use them is via a single PC over a direct-wired USB connection.

But hey, if that’s all you need, what this and other G-series models have going for them (other than their exceptionally low running costs) is superb print quality on all fronts: text, graphics, and especially photos. In fact, if you print a lot of images, MegaTank (and perhaps Epson EcoTank) printers might be your best choice. That’s not to say that there aren’t any advantages to five- and six-ink photo-centric machines (the Canon Pixma TS9020’s gray ink tank helps churn out superior gray-scale images, for example), but the Pixma G2200’s photo quality for most scenarios is well beyond acceptable. Given the cost of ink between G-series and TS-series Pixmas (Canon’s consumer-grade photo AIO printers), for frequent photo jobs the Pixma G2200 can save you some serious ink bucks.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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Read about the Canon Pixma TS8020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One at Computer ShopperIt may seem pedestrian in these days of smartphones and VR, but having the ability to print photographs from your desktop—on demand—without spending a fortune on the equipment is truly one of the many marvels of the 21st century. Granted, it’s usually cheaper to take your files to Costco or the nearest drug store, but that’s not nearly as convenient, nor is the quality as good as you can get from home—as long as you use the right equipment. That factor brings us to the topic of today’s review, Canon’s $179.99-MSRP Pixma TS8020 Wireless all-in-one photo printer.

Part of a four-model rollout of the imaging giant’s new Pixma TS series (which replaces the photo-centric Pixma “MG” line), the Pixma TS8020 is a six-ink all-in-one (AIO) photo printer. (We also just looked at the one-step-up Pixma TS9020; hit the link for a review.) As we’ve said in many an MG Pixma review, including that of the Canon Pixma MG7720, few consumer-grade photo printers churn out photos and artwork as well as a six-ink Pixma, and the Pixma TS8020 is no exception. But, as we’ll get into later on, like most photo printers (especially those that deploy six inks), few printers cost as much to use on a per-page ink basis. The Pixma TS8020’s cost of ink is high for an AIO in this price range, but that’s also the case with competing photo-centric models, such as the $299.99-list Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One, another six-ink model.

At $20 less than the flagship Pixma TS9020, with the step down the Pixma TS8020 makes you give up very little in terms of print quality, capacity, and features. The more expensive model, for instance, has a slightly larger touch-screen control panel, and it supports Ethernet networking, which the Pixma TS8020 does not. By comparison, the two lower-price TS Pixmas, the Pixma TS6020 and TS5020 ($149.99 MSRP and $99.99 MSRP, respectively), use only five inks, and the Pixma TS6020 has no SD memory-card slot, while the other three do. In addition, the TS5020 comes sans the second paper tray at the rear of the chassis that the other three models have. The line is a mix-and-match of features you may or may not need; you just have to shop it carefully.

Canon Pixma TS8020

Pricing complicates matters, as well. As we were writing this, all but the Pixma TS8020 were discounted on Canon’s site off their list prices, as follows: The Pixma TS9020 was at $179.99 (the same price as the TS8020), the TS6020 was at $99.99, and the TS5020, $79.99. This could change day to day, but at the moment there was little reason to opt for the TS8020 over the TS9020 unless you were to find it cheaper elsewhere. So shop around.

You’ll see some other differences among the four new TS Pixmas (we’ll have most or all of them reviewed in the coming weeks), but one of the biggest is the deployment of six inks versus five, which, as you’d imagine, affects print quality. The missing ink tank in question is “photo gray,” which helps primarily when printing gray-scale images. (We’ll talk more about ink cartridges in the Cost Per Page section later on.)

Normally, we’d say that if you don’t need Ethernet, save yourself $20 by choosing the Pixma TS8020, but as long as Canon is charging the same amount for both the TS9020 and the TS8020, that’s a moot point. Besides, the higher-end model’s larger touch screen (5 inches versus 4.3 inches) is a little nicer and a little easier to use. Otherwise, the differences between the two are minor.

As we said about the Pixma TS9020 and its Pixma MG7720 predecessor, for the price, it’s hard to beat the TS8020’s output, with both photos and documents. That said, the high cost per page and lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending the scanner multipage documents mean you should not mistake it for an office machine or even a volume-minded workhorse for home. But if an under-$200 photo printer with the convenience of now-and-then document printing and a scanner are what you need (and you don’t need that Ethernet jack), the Pixma TS8020 is a fine, able choice.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Review of the Canon Pixma TS9020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One at Computer ShopperFor years now, we’ve been reviewing slightly different iterations of the same “MG”-family Pixmas from Canon. (The MG family is, or was, Canon’s consumer line of photo-centric Pixma printers.) Like most printer makers, each year Canon simply added a feature or two, up-ticked the number in the printer’s name (say, from Pixma MG7620 to Pixma MG7720), and then offered it as a new, or more precisely, an “updated” product.

Even though this is common practice among the printer set, reviewing more or less the same printer over and over can get monotonous. We’re happy to report that those days are, at least temporarily, over, where Canon’s Pixma MG-series photo printers are concerned.

Enter the imaging giant’s new Pixma TS series, the MG series’ replacement. The first round of TS Pixmas consists of four all-in-one (AIO) print/scan/copy models. From the least expensive, with the shortest list of features, to the most expensive and feature-rich, the new TS series AIOs are the Pixma TS5020 Wireless ($99.99 MSRP), the Pixma TS6020 Wireless ($149.99 MSRP), the Pixma TS8020 Wireless ($179.99), and the topic of this review, the flagship Pixma TS9020 Wireless. (Computer Shopper will be reviewing most or all of these models in the coming weeks.) The Pixma TS9020 lists for $199.99, though as we were writing this, we found it at Canon U.S.A. and various Canon resellers for $179.99.

The differences in features among the new models include smaller LCDs and paper capacities as you slide down the list. Today’s test unit, the top-dog Pixma TS9020, for example, has a 5-inch touch screen, while the Pixma TS8020’s display is 4.3 inches. This top-of-the-line model supports Ethernet and Near-Field Communication (NFC), but some of the less-expensive AIOs in the series do not. (Of the lot, only the Pixma TS9020 has Ethernet, and both the Pixma TS9020 and TS8020 support NFC.) The three top models have two paper trays, while the Pixma TS5020 has just one—you get the idea. The bottom line in all this is that the Pixma TS9020 is the best-equipped of the four.

Canon Pixma TS9020 (Angled)

While the MG series Pixmas had their issues (no printer is perfect, to be sure), they printed some of the best-looking photos among consumer photo printers. That was especially true of the six-ink Canon Pixma MG7720, the model that the Pixma TS9020 replaces. The Pixma TS9020, like that earlier model, uses six ink cartridges—the same six cartridges, in fact, which unfortunately translates to the same high per-page running costs. As we’ll get into later on, it’s not unusual for consumer-grade photo printers (or any grade of photo printer, for that matter) to have a high cost per page (CPP). Even so, this Pixma’s per-page ink cost carries over and diminishes its value as a document printer, especially if you print more than a couple of hundred document pages per month and are hoping to use this printer as a dual-purpose photo/text workhorse.

Even though the Pixma TS9020 is somewhat expensive to use with all kinds of output, it does offer the best of both worlds from a quality perspective, in that it prints high-quality documents and photos. In keeping with the light-use concept, though, like the MG-series Pixmas none of the models in this new series comes with an automatic document feeder (ADF). Not being able to send multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention will make this a key omission for some home and small offices.

In the end, we have to make the same general statement about this printer that we have about more than a few MG Pixmas in the past. We like the Pixma TS9020 as a photo printer, but the ability to print documents and perform limited scanning and copying should be considered add-ons, conveniences. If you need these features regularly, you’ll want to consider another photo-centric AIO, such as the Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One or one of Epson’s other consumer photo AIOs. If printing photos is your primary concern, though, and you need quality prints, you can’t go wrong with the Pixma TS9020, so long as you can stomach the cost of its ink.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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Review of the Canon Pixma G4200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One at Computer ShopperYears from now, we’ll look back at the current era in inkjet printers, and call these times The “Big Ink” Years. Supplying bulk ink with your printer, or making it available in bulk, is definitely the in thing.

It took a while, but inkjet giant Canon finally responded to rival Epson’s “supertanker” EcoTank inkjet printers, and to a lesser degree, to Brother’s INKvestment models. These are two inkjet-printer lines with different ways of delivering bulk ink. The difference between the Epson and Brother approaches is that Epson’s EcoTank printers take their ink from relatively large reservoirs that you fill from bottles (or snap in as sealed bags), while Brother’s INKvestment models use ink cartridges that are inexpensive on a per-page basis, sometimes bundled in multiples with the printer.

The idea is that you pay more (often significantly more) for the printer up front, but the per-page running costs are much lower. From a printer-business standpoint, you lock in more of your profit with the purchase of the printer outright. That’s the idea with both the Brother and Epson approaches. And now with Canon’s G-series MegaTank machines, like the $399.99-list Pixma G4200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer we’re looking at today, another big inkjet name joins the trend.

Canon Pixma G4200 (Front)

When the printer manufacturer makes much of its profit from the sale of the machine itself, rather than on the subsequent sale of ink, you as a buyer need to be sure that the ostensibly lower ongoing cost of operation makes that initial purchase sensible. Like many of Epson’s EcoTank printers, Canon’s MegaTank machines deploy the filling-the-reservoirs-from-bottles method, as opposed to Brother’s inexpensive-cartridge approach. Brother, with its approach, is able to offer two versions of its INKvestment products, dubbed XL and non-XL. The less-expensive non-XL machines, such as the Brother MFC-J985DW, come with only one set of four ink tanks, and the relatively high-yield replacement cartridges come at a low per-page price. The more-costly XL models (the Brother MFC-J985DW XL$249.99 at Amazon, for instance), come with multiple sets of cartridges in the box, and the further replacement tanks are priced for competitively low running costs.

The bottles of ink that come with the EcoTank and MegaTank printers could last you up to a year, or even more, depending on what and how much you print. Epson, in fact, claims that its WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One$491.27 at Amazon (an AIO with a feature set similar to that of the Pixma G4200) and other EcoTank models come with two years’ worth of ink for the typical user of that model of printer, good for thousands of pages. In a similar vein, Canon claims that the Pixma G4200 and the other three G-series models ship with enough ink to print 6,000 monochrome pages or 7,000 color pages. As we’ll get into later on, these are document pages with a low percentage of overall ink coverage, not full-coverage photographs or pages laden with graphics.

The first round of Canon’s MegaTank machines consists of one stand-alone, print-only non-AIO model, the Pixma G1200 MegaTank, and three AIOs: the Pixma G2200 MegaTank All-in-One, the Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One, and the flagship model we’re reviewng here, the Pixma G4200.

Canon Pixma G4200 (G Series)

While they all use the same print engines and come with the same amount of ink, the differences in the feature sets among these four printers are major. The first two, for example, don’t offer Wi-Fi network connectivity or support for mobile devices, while the Pixma G4200 we are looking at here is the only one of the four with an automatic document feeder (ADF) for passing multipage documents to the scanner. And, of course, the least-expensive, non-AIO Pixma G1200 doesn’t even have a scanner. Even so, as we’ll get into near the end of this review, the Pixma G4200’s text and print quality is exceptional, and the G4200 (and its siblings) deliver some of the lowest running costs on the inkjet-printer market.

That last item is a key thing. For a low-volume printer designed for home offices, excellent print quality and low running costs are really the bottom line for us—so long as the machine has a reasonable feature set, too. The inclusion of an ADF on a bulk-ink model at this price is a huge plus. To get an ADF from an Epson EcoTank model, you’ll have to march up the Epson line to the $500 WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One model we mentioned earlier. Granted, that printer comes with more ink, but not enough to make up a $100 price difference.

That Epson model, too, is more geared toward small businesses, small offices, or workgroups, as the name implies. What we really like about the Pixma G4200 and the lessers in its line, though, is that they print photos very close in quality to Canon’s new photo-centric Pixma TS9020 and Pixma TS8020 models. But the ink costs a lot less, making the Pixma G4200 an exceptional choice for homes or home offices—and an Editors’ Choice pick.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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