i850 Color Bubble Jet Photo PrinterThe i850's driver lets you quickly setup the printer by simply choosing the Media Type (Plain Paper, High Resolution Paper, Photo Paper Pro, Glossy Photo Paper, High Gloss Photo Film, T-Shirt Transfer, Transparency or Envelope) and the Print Quality setting (High, Standard or Draft). The optimum Quality is automatically selected depending on the Media Type but you can manually select it using the Custom option. By default the driver is set for Auto color adjustment or that can be manually selected as well. The default options produce the best quality printouts at the fastest print speed.
Clicking on the Custom button for Quality lets you manually select the printing speed from Fast to Fine. You can also select the desired Halftoning options. By default when using the High quality setting this slider is at the "2" position and I didn't notice any great improvement by using the Finest "1" setting.
Clicking on the Manual button for Color Correction lets you manually adjust the individual colors as well as the intensity. Here you can enable/disable ICM color matching or select a Print Type and Brightness setting.
Clicking on the Print Advisor button brings up this screen. It's kind of a built in FAQ to educate you on what settings are best for what media and etc.
The Page Layout options let you select the paper size, orientation (portrait or landscape), printing type (normal-size, fit-to-page, scaled, page layout printing, poster, banner), borderless printing (4x6" or Letter) with an adjustable amount of extension, duplex printing, number of copies, printing order and collate options.
The Stamp/Background page lets you select an overlay stamp to print on your pages. Choose from Draft, Important, Confidential, Secret or define your own. You may also select a background image.
The Effects page lets you turn your color photo into a simulated illustration, slide the lever to increase or decrease the effect. You can also create a monochrome effect like Sepia, Pink, Blue, Green or select a custom color. The Vivid Photo enhances all of the colors and contrast and may be too much for most good images. You can also enable or disable the Image Optimizer, Photo Optimizer PRO or Photo Noise Reduction enhancements.
The Profiles page lets you load, create or save custom sets of printer parameters for the type of printing jobs that you do frequently. This is where you would define specific profiles for different types of non-Canon paper.
The Maintenance page lets you clean the print heads with options for a regular cleaning cycle or a "deep" cleaning cycle for really clogged heads. There is also an option for aligning the heads or checking the print nozzles. You can also set the Auto Power Off time, Custom Settings and the Quiet Mode. From here you can also start the Status Monitor (see next frame.)
The Status Monitor shows you visibly the level of ink in each of the ink tanks. It also tells you the status of the printer and the setting of the paper thickness lever. When one of the tanks is low the Status Monitor will pop-up to alert you. The low tank(s) will have a yellow exclamation mark over it to let you know that it needs to be replaced soon. The ink warning first comes on when there is still some ink remaining so you won't run out in the middle of a printout and waste a sheet of costly photo paper.
Here's the low Magenta ink tank after I finished the current print job. The chamber on the left side is full of ink when the tank is new. As you can see it drained the left chamber completely and the foam-filled side that feeds the head is very close to empty.
The Canon i850 is an incredible printer, it's fast and quiet and there's no denying that the replaceable ink tanks are more economical than having to replace a multi-color cartridge when only one of its colors has run out. The i850's print head assembly can be replaced by the user which eliminates the need to send the printer in for service in the event of a failure or major clog. The driver maintenance options include both a head cleaning cycle and an alignment procedure to keep your printing as perfect as possible. Installation on my Windows XP machine was quick and simple and the printer was good to go within minutes of taking it out of the box. The driver software is designed so that even novice users can be cranking out photo-quality prints quickly. And when you're not printing photos the i850 is an incredibly fast all-purpose color and text printer too. The key is simplicity, instead of numerous print time options like selecting an output "dpi" resolution or enabling or disabling microweave you just select the media type and High Quality and then click the print button in your application. Print after print came out looking exactly the way they did on the screen in Photoshop or PhotoImpact. The inability to get the printout to match the screen is probably the #1 complaint of most digital printing neophytes. Kudos to Canon for eliminating the software hassles. The actual print quality is outstanding, especially considering that it only uses three colors. For the majority of the non-professional uses out there the i850 will be all the printer they need to make photo-quality prints at home. I put a print from my Canon S9000 next to an i850 print and you can see a difference, but it isn't all that much. It's amazing what Canon has been able to do with those 5pl and 2pl size ink droplets to make up for the missing photo cyan and photo magenta inks. And the i850 prints better B&W prints than my S9000, this caught me completely by surprise. (Note: The i850 was plugged into my USB 2.0 hub the same as my S9000 printer. The i850 supports USB 2.0, the S9000 is a USB 1.1 compliant device) Speed - The i850 outputs a borderless 8.5 x 11-inch print at the highest quality possible in about two minutes. The same photo print takes about seven and a half minutes on the Epson 890 printer. The prints are very comparable to those made on an Epson photo printer at 1440dpi (microweave on and high speed off). There is a little more shadow detail visible at 1440dpi or 2880dpi on the Epsons but it takes at about 2-3X the printing time and uses a lot more ink. Epson printers slowly, micro-advance the paper both at the beginning and end of the print which doubles the normal print time. The Canon i850 only slows down slightly at the end of the print, other than that it speeds along whether printing in bordered or borderless mode. A normal 4x6" borderless print comes out of the i850 in about 50 seconds! The Epson 890 takes about four minutes to make the same borderless 4x6" print. The most startling speed comparison can be seen when printing normal text documents. My $499 S9000 is a fantastic photo printer but it is no speed demon when it comes to doing the normal day to day chores of printing out emails or Word documents. The i850 literally blows the paper out with an average per sheet print time of about seven seconds. A completely "covered" page with text from top to bottom and several different colors in it was finished in about ten seconds. The most complex printing job I could find was an Adobe Acrobat 2-page sales flyer for a digicam, a combination of text in various font sizes and high-resolution color photos and illustrations. It took sixteen seconds to do the front side with three photos and several all-black areas (S9000 took 37 seconds), the back side with all the specification text took about thirteen seconds (S9000 took 30 secs.) The plain paper prints look better from the i850, the black is blacker and the solid color areas look more vivid Price, performance and economy, the $199 Canon i850 Photo Printer is an excellent value. And in today's world where your time is the most valuable commodity, the i850 can literally pay for itself in increased productivity, this is one seriously fast printer. P.S. - To answer the question "What if I don't have USB 2.0?" USB 2.0 devices are backwards compatible with USB 1.1, they just operate at the slower speed of the USB 1.1 interface on your computer. You can purchase an add-on USB 2.0 PCI card if you want to gain the additional throughput speed.