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Steve's Digicams


i860 Color Bubble Jet
Photo Printer

Review posted 10/14/03

Canon i860 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer, photo (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

Canon i860 - Fast Photo & Text Printing

The Canon i860 Photo Printer is the successor to the very popular i850 Photo Printer. The i860 is a super-efficient all-purpose printer that achieves up to 4800 x 1200 color dpi and speeds of up to 23 pages-per-minute (ppm) in black text and up to 16 ppm in color. The i860 printer also features ContrastPLUS, an advanced five-color ink system that is the next evolutionary step in digital printing. ContrastPLUS features a dye- based photo-grade black ink tank for photo printing, delivering improved image contrast and overall sharpness, particularly when used on photo paper. The i860 Desktop Photo Printer also has a pigment-based black ink tank to achieve crisp, fast, high-quality black text.

New features on the i860 printer include PictBridge technology, the newly adopted industry standard for cross-brand direct printing from PictBridge compatible digital still and digital video cameras, and a photo paper tray that supports 4x6 inch photo paper that can act as a dual paper feed allowing the i860 printer to simultaneously accommodate 8.5 x 11 or 5 x 7 inch paper as well as 4x 6 inch photo paper. The photo paper tray has a cover to protect the 4x6 photo paper and is set into the main auto sheet feeder. This new feature allows users to alternate printing modes or printing sizes without stopping to change paper.

The i860 Desktop Photo Printer offers true edge-to-edge borderless printing in 4x6, 5x7 and 8.5x11 inch sizes. The i860 print head features advanced MicroFine Droplet Technology with a total of 1,856 nozzles that deliver prescribed volume ink droplets in sizes as small as 2 and 5 picoliters, achieving professional high definition, photo quality results. The i860 printer also increases ink efficiency by providing individual ink tanks for all five colors from the pigment based black as well as the dye-based photo-grade black, cyan, magenta and yellow. This ensures that individual colors only need to be replaced when they have been completely depleted.

Adding to the flexibility, efficiency and high performance of the i860 printer is an optional auto duplex printing unit (DPU-10) that automatically reroutes the page for properly formatted twosided printing. Both timesaving and paper saving, the Auto Duplex feature also allows for a wider printable area than competitive duplex-capable printers. Additionally, an optional high volume, 250 sheet paper feed cassette (PFC-10) attaches to the base of the i860 printer to increase the paper load capacity to 400 sheets at a time.

Individual Ink Tanks -- The i860 employs Canon's hallmark Canon Think Tank System. This unique technology that Canon invented, offers users a cost performance advantage, especially when printing photos. End-users only replace the individual color ink tank they have depleted which helps to eliminate ink waste. In addition, the Canon Think Tank System has an optical ink sensor that triggers an on- screen warning so that users are alerted when the ink has run low.

Software Applications for Printing Professional Looking Photos - Shipping with Canon's i860 printer is the latest version of Easy-PhotoPrint, an all-new web-printing application called Easy-WebPrint, PhotoRecord, PhotoStitch, ZoomBrowser and ImageBrowser. The new version of Easy-PhotoPrint adds 5" x 7" photo printing support to the 4" x 6" and 8.5" x 11" current printing capability. The driver also features a new Photo Noise Reduction function that helps reduce speckle noise often found in blue areas such as the sky. Easy-PhotoPrint also includes Exif technology and is available for Windows and Mac.

Canon i860 Features:

  • ContrastPLUS 5-color ink system, dye-based black ink for photo printing and a pigment-based black for high-quality black text

  • Prints 4" x 6" borderless photos in ~50 seconds

  • Separate trays for letter size and 4x6" media

  • 1,856 nozzles for exceptional speed and quality

  • MicroFine Droplet Technology with 4800 x 1200 dpi resolution using 2-picoliter size ink droplets

  • Borderless printing in 4 x 6", 5 x 7" and letter size

  • Individually replaceable ink tanks lowers the "per print" cost

  • PictBridge compatibility for direct printing from many new digicams

  • Exif 2.2 compatible with included Canon Easy Photo Print program

Canon i860 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

The i860's USB port is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000 and XP, and Mac OS 8.6-9.X and OS X v 10.1 or later (Mac OS X borderless printing requires v 10.2 or later.). The parallel port allows the printer to be used with older operating systems.

Mechanics & Performance

The i860 is a compact and stylish looking, gray and silver colored printer that will easily fit into your computer workspace. Setup is straight forward and can be accomplished by following the steps outlined on the included big page of directions. You first install the removable print head assembly and then unwrap and install the five ink tanks, install the software and then connect the USB cable and turn on the printer. Windows finishes loading the drivers and within a minute or two you're up and printing.

I was amazed by the Canon i850 photo printer that we reviewed earlier last year. It was one of the fastest text/graphics printers that I've ever used and still delivered photo-quality prints even though it only used 4-colors (CMYK). Like the other Canon photo printers (i950, i900D, i9100) the i860 is easily twice as fast as the nearest competitor. Perhaps the most significant feature besides the speed is the ThinkTank ink system which we will cover on the next page. You replace the individual color tanks rather than tossing a multi-color cartridge out when any one color runs empty. The user can also replace the print head assembly if needed without requiring a trip to a service center.

In actual use the i860 is incredibly quiet, the only sound you hear is the initial paper feed and eject when it's finished. I printed a borderless 8.5 x 11 inch photo using the Photo Paper Pro and "High Quality" print settings in the driver. The finished print was ejected approximately two minutes later. Examined at arm's length it was the equal to anything that I've printed on my i9100 printer and output at almost the same speed.

If you're tired of overwhelming printer driver choices then you'll like the way the Canon software is written. It is detailed starting on page three of this review. The printer really only needs to be told your media type and size and you're ready to go. You can click on the Custom buttons if you want to manually change the speed vs quality setting or enable Vivid color printing or the Image Optimizer, Photo Optimizer PRO or Photo Noise Reduction enhancements. Depending on the paper type and image type these "enhancements" don't always produce the most optimum results. They are designed to smooth the pixel "jaggies" out of low-res images or to create prints with enhanced greens and blues.

Canon i860 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

Included with the i860 is this handy 4x6" paper tray that attaches over the top of the existing sheet feeder. It doesn't block the sheet feeder so you can have both letter size and 4x6" media in the printer at the same time. You simply rotate the knob and the 4x6" tray is lowered into feed position. When you want to print on letter size media rotate the knob again to raise the 4x6" paper tray.

PictBridge Compatibility

Canon i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

PictBridge compatibility means you can plug many of the latest digital cameras directly into the front-mounted USB connector and make photo prints without the need of a computer. Shown here we have the EOS Digital Rebel SLR connected and ready to make prints. You can also connect any of the Canon Bubblejet Direct compatible digital cameras to this connector too.

Canon i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

After connecting your camera you will see a "SET" icon in the upper left corner of your playback image on the camera's LCD screen. Scroll to the photo you want to print and then press the SET button to access the PictBridge menu.

Canon i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

The PictBridge menu lets you select borderless, bordered, time/date stamp, # of copies, paper size, and you can adjust the trim of the image to fit the 3:2 aspect ratio of 4x6" print media.

Select your options and then hit the SET button to print - that's it, quick and simple, "no-computer needed" printing of your digicam images.

Continue To
Page Two

i860 Photo Printer Specifications

Print Speed (up to)Black : 23 ppm (approximately 2.6 seconds per page)**
Color : 16 ppm (approximately 3.8 seconds per page)**
4x6 Color Photo : Borderless: approximately 50 seconds**
Number of NozzlesBlack: 320; Color: 512 x 2 (C,M) and 256 x 2 (Y, Bk)
Print Resolution (up to)600 x 600 dpi in Black
4800 x 1200 dpi* in Color
OS CompatibilityWindows® XP, Windows 2000/Me/98/95 and Windows NT® 4.0, Mac® OS (8.6 to 9.x) and Mac OS X version 10.2.1 to 10.2.x See for updated compatibility.
Ink CompatibilityBCI-6Bk Black ink tank, BCI-3eBk Black ink tank, BCI-6C Cyan ink tank, BCI-6M Magenta ink tank, BCI-6Y Yellow ink tank
Standard InterfacesUSB, IEEE 1284 Parallel Port and Direct Print Port (cables not included)
Paper SizesLetter, legal, A4, A5, 4" x 6", 5" x 7", U.S. #10 or European envelopes
Paper HandlingBuilt-in sheet feeder - 150 sheets @ paper weight 17 lb.
Envelopes - 10
Glossy Photo Paper (4" x 6") - 20 sheets
Glossy Photo Paper (8.5" x 11") - 10 sheets
High Resolution Paper (8.5" x 11") - 80 sheets
Matte Photo Paper (8.5" x 11") - 10 sheets
Photo Paper Plus Glossy For Borderless Printing (4" x 6") - 20 sheets
Photo Paper Plus Glossy (5" x 7") - 10 sheets
Photo Paper Plus Glossy (8.5" x 11") - 10 sheets
Photo Paper Pro (4" x 6") - 20 sheets
Photo Paper Pro For Borderless Printing (4" x 6") - 20 sheets
Photo Paper Pro (8.5" x 11") - 10 sheets
Transparencies (8.5" x 11") - 30 sheets
Noise Level (Approx.)39 dB(A) in best quality mode
Physical Dimensions16.5" W x 12.2" D x 7.3" H
Weight12.8 lbs.
Power Source120V AC, 60Hz
Warranty1-year limited warranty with InstantExchange program; 1- year telephone support (90 day toll free from the time of first call); Subject to certain conditions and restrictions. See for details.
Software IncludedCD-ROM†† including: Printer Driver, Setup Software & User's Guide, Quick Start Guide, PictBridge Instruction Sheet, Electronic User's Guide, Photo Application Guide, e-registration, Easy-PhotoPrint (Windows/Mac), PhotoRecord™ (Windows), ZoomBrowser EX (Windows), ImageBrowser (Mac), PhotoStitch (Windows/Mac), Easy-WebPrint (Windows, requires Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5, version 6.0 recommended)
† Prices and specifications subject to change without notice. Actual prices are determined by individual dealers and may vary.
* Resolution may vary based on printer driver setting.
** PPM print speed based on the highest speed printer driver setting.
4" x 6" photo print speed based on default printer driver mode using Canon Photo Paper Pro. Print speed will vary depending on system configuration, software, document complexity, print mode and page coverage.
*** For a listing of select Canon digital cameras and camcorders featuring Bubble Jet Direct or PictBridge direct printing technology visit To determine if a non-Canon brand camera or camcorder is PictBridge-compatible please consult the manufacturer.
†† System requirements vary by application. Easy-PhotoPrint, ImageBrowser and PhotoStitch are not supported on Mac OS 8.6. ZoomBrowser, Easy-PhotoPrint, Easy-WebPrint, PhotoRecord and PhotoStitch are not supported in Windows 95 and Windows NT® 4.0.

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