Canon Pixma iP2850 review

Most printers on sale these days are multi-function devices that include a scanner and copier as well, but there’s still a market for low cost printers that don’t include these additional functions.

Canon’s Pixma iP2850 is currently selling for an average price of around £40 online, which certainly makes it one of the most affordable inkjet printers we’ve ever come across. But while print quality is very good for such an inexpensive printer, the price of the ink cartridges means that the iP2850 isn’t quite the bargain that it might appear to be.

It’s a neatly designed little printer, measuring just 426mm wide, 134mm high and 235mm deep, so it can fit easily onto a desk beside your Mac. It’ll need to sit right there on the desk, though, as the low cost means that the iP2850 doesn’t include Wifi for connecting to your home network so you’ll need to plug it in using a good old-fashioned USB printer cable.

Canon’s Mac support also leaves something to be desired. Like a number of Canon printers that we’ve reviewed in the past, the iP2850 didn’t include any Mac software on the CD included in its box, so we had to look around on Canon’s web site to locate the Mac software. That’s no great hardship, but it does make a poor first impression – especially when the software is several hundred megabytes in size and takes several minutes to download. We also found the Mac printer software a little confusing, as you can set the print quality in two separate pull-down menus – which means that it’s possible to select ‘fine’ quality in one menu and low-quality ‘draft’ mode in another.

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Fortunately, print quality does turn out to be very good. Canon uses a special pigment-based black ink that produces excellent text, with finely detailed characters that come close to the quality of a laser printer. Colour output is good too, and the iP2850 even managed to produce a 4x6 photo print in just 45 seconds, which is pretty good going for such an affordable printer.

However, mono and colour printing weren’t as fast, with the iP2850 managing just five pages per minute for mono and a mere 1.5ppm for mixed text-and-graphics. Those speeds are still perfectly adequate for light use at home, but it’s the cost of the replacement ink cartridges that might put you off.

Colour printing isn’t too bad, as Canon’s high-yield XL colour cartridge costs £25 and lasts for about 300 pages, which comes to 8.3 pence per page. However, the XL black ink cartridge costs £22 and lasts for 400 pages, which works out at 5.5p per page – well above average for simple mono printing.

OUR VERDICT

The low cost of the iP2850 is certainly very attractive, so it’s bound to appeal to home users and students who need a basic, affordable printer. Print quality is also very good for such a low-cost device, but the high cost of Canon’s black ink cartridge seems hard to justify, and outweighs any savings you might make on the printer’s initial purchase price.

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