Canon S750 and Canon S9000
IntroductionBefore Canon launched its first S series of inkjet printers, the company had somehow lost its way in the photo-inkjet race. Two years on, these two latest additions to the range demonstrate dramatically how much Canon is very much back on track. The S750 and S9000, supporting general office A4 and graphics-led A3 output respectively, look good, run well, and produce excellent prints on all grades of paper. Let’s take the S750 (pictured below) first. Designed in a three-tone case of black, charcoal and grey, it’s as if Canon was trying to show HP how grey should be done. Paper is input from the top, up to 100 sheets of regular office paper leaning on a translucent, clip-on backrest. This back-rest has an alarming habit of falling off at the slightest nudge, so be careful where you place the printer. Sheets pass through a fairly flat printing path, and are delivered onto a simple catch-tray at the front. This tray is another clip-on gadget with a single joint so it can be hinged upwards against the front of the machine when not in use. Inside, the printhead accommodates four separate ink tanks: a large black one plus three smaller, individual tanks for cyan, magenta and yellow. Separate tanks minimize wastage compared with tri-colour cartridges, since you don’t have to junk unused inks just because one colour has run out. Just above the printhead is a simple lever for adjusting the carriage height to ease the passage of thicker materials such as envelopes. Photo fit
The S750 supports a print resolution of 1,200-x-2,400dpi, further enhanced by Canon’s 5pl (picolitre) MicroFine Droplet Technology. In practice, this minimizes grainy or dotty effects, not least across pale and pastel areas. Perhaps most impressive is the printer’s ability to produce quality photo-output across a wide range of paper types, including cheap office 65gsm paper. Office documents come out bright and clean, while photos on glossy paper are exceptionally good, being correctly coloured, highly detailed and grain-free. We especially liked the ability to print edge-to-edge on certain paper types; this worked really well. The S750 is acceptably quiet for everyday office jobs, and very quiet indeed for slower, higher-quality output. You can even put all your work into Quiet Mode if you don’t mind the speed hit. Full high-res A4 photos run through in a couple of minutes, but our test for printing multiple copies of plain mono text from Microsoft Word 2001 achieved an average of around 2.5ppm (pages per minute), which doesn’t compare too well with the quoted speed of 13ppm. On the other hand, we achieved similar speeds with full-colour output such as Web pages, so things aren’t as bad as they might seem. The S9000 (right), A3 device is designed with aluminium-effect details along with black and grey, but is still recognizably in the same style as the smaller S750. A larger translucent plastic clip-on back-rest feeds up to 100 sheets of office paper into the top. This time, the back-rest stays put, and includes a hinged extender to double its height when feeding A3 sheets. Printouts emerge onto a telescopic output tray at the front, which can be folded up flush with the main body of the printer when not in use. Graphics illustration
The S9000 can be used in the office, but is more geared to intensive graphics use. To this end, it’s a photo printer in the true sense, employing six inks instead of the conventional process four. So in addition to the CMYK mix, the printhead accommodates a light magenta and light cyan, which have the effect of smoothing gradient tints and making pale hues easier to reproduce with a less-dotty result. As with the S750, each ink colour is supplied as a separately installed tank, so reducing wastage. Print speeds are rated at just under half that of the S750, while supporting the same 1,200-x-2,400dpi resolution and droplet technology. This was reflected in our test prints, with hi-res A4 glossy colour photos completing in around four minutes, and our multi-page text test producing an average speed of 1.6ppm (compared with the official rating of 5.7ppm). That said, A3 photos regularly complete within five minutes at their maximum output quality, which is actually very good compared with many other A3 photo inkjets on the market. Not least, photo prints look absolutely perfect, which is what it’s all about. We hold minor concerns about how much money you’ll actually save with the separately installed ink tanks in either the S750 or S9000. A full set of tanks for the S9000, for example, will set you back over £50. More worrying, though, is the total lack of Mac OS X support – with no drivers on the installation CD, nor available for download from Canon’s Web site. This means you can’t print from products such as Office.vX and an increasing range of other mainstream business packages unless they have Classic modes you can run after booting into Mac OS 9.2. It’s worse for graphics users looking at the S9000, since everything from Macromedia FreeHand to CorelDraw has moved onto Mac OS X already, as will Adobe Photoshop within the next few months.