HP 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…
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.