i850 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer
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.