i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

The i960's driver lets you quickly setup the printer by simply choosing the Media Type (Plain Paper, Photo Paper Pro, Photo Paper Plus Glossy, Matte Photo Paper, High Resolution Paper, T-Shirt Transfer, Transparency or Envelope) and the Print Quality setting (High, Standard, Draft or Custom). 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 to use Windows ICM. The default options produce the best quality printouts at the fastest print speed. Other options lets you select to print in Grayscale and enable the Print Preview function.

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 and 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 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 turns your photo into a simulated color 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 option enhances the green and blue colors and contrast and may be too much for some images. You can also enable or disable the Image Optimizer or Photo Optimizer PRO enhancements which help produce better enlargements from lower resolution images. option helps reduce the "speckle" noise often found in blue areas such as the sky. It has two settings: Normal and Strong. Canon i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer Canon i960 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer

Left is no Photo Noise Reduction, Right is with PNR enabled.

The Profiles page lets you load, create or save custom sets of printer parameters for the type of printing jobs that you do frequently.

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 Photo 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 Photo Magenta and Photo Cyan tanks consistently run out faster than the other colors when printing photos so there's little argument for the need of these additional colors.

The Print Preview function is the last place you can abort the print so it's nice that Canon has now added the display of the paper size, paper type and the printing type. These items were not incorporated in earlier print drivers and are a welcome addition to the i960's driver.

The Canon i960 is an incredible printer -- it's even faster than its predecessor the i950 and is so quiet you hardly know it's working. My real world tests with the i960 hooked up to my Windows XP machine via a 7-port USB 2.0 hub is as follows: Borderless 4x6" high quality, Photo Paper Pro ......... 35 secs. Borderless 8.5x11" high quality, Photo Paper Pro ...... 1 min. 25 secs. Timing was from paper feed to paper drop in the output tray. This is a very fast printer. And it doesn't sacrifice quality for speed either, the times listed above were using the high quality print setting. I also very much like the new 4x6" paper tray, it's really nice not to have to unload one paper, adjust the guide and then load a different size paper. Most of us print 4x6" photos with the occasional 8.5x11" photo print but mostly I think we print 4x6" photos and use standard letter size paper for our day to day normal printing tasks. Now all you need do is turn a dial on the 4x6" paper tray when you want that media and turn the dial the other way when you want the letter size paper. These printers come with a very nice bundle of software applications. Canon's Easy PhotoPrint makes printing simple, any size paper with many different multiple prints per page layouts and cropping options. You are shown a visual preview of the final print output before the actual printing begins. You also get Canon's ZoomBrowser which is like a Windows Explorer for graphic files. Folders of images are shown in thumbnail form where you can view, edit and print them quickly. One of the new inclusions in the software bundle is Canon's Easy-WebPrint which runs as an add-in with Internet Explorer. This makes printing web pages a snap. You can select to print background colors and images or not to print them. Many people ask me how to print my reviews because we use white text on a black background. By default Easy-WebPrint does not print the background and it changes the white text to black -- voilla! Problem solved. There's no denying that separate ink tanks are the way to go. It's ridiculous to have to toss an expensive 5-color ink cartridge in the garbage just because one of the colors has run low. I like that the Canon ink tanks are clear plastic, you can always "see" exactly how much ink is in them. I have to admit that I've never liked Epson's opaque ink cartridges and the way it keeps track of ink useage by counting the ink droplets. It's much easier to believe Canon, knowing that the printer uses a light beam to mechanically detect when a tank is low. The i960's print quality is simply awesome and equals anything that I've ever gotten from pro color labs in my film days. I've been totally satisfied with my Canon i9100, my living room wall is covered with mounted 13 x 19-inch prints from this printer. Comparing i9100 prints and i960 prints with the naked eye reveals little difference. If you go in for a closer look you can see how much smoother i960 prints are than i9100 prints. The i960's smaller 2-picoliter ink droplets make all the difference. See the 1:1 scan clips of actual 4x6" prints below.
The i9100 printer creates photo-quality prints that will satisfy most anyone's needs.  However, if you're one of those people (like me) that just isn't happy unless you have the absolute best -- I'll see you at the checkout line. I said in my i950 review that Canon couldn't make this printer any faster, I stand corrected because they did. If you own one of the new PictBridge compatible or Bubblejet Direct Canon digital cameras you'll love the Direct Printing feature. No hassling with the computer, just plug the camera's USB cable into the printer and print!   I am now waiting to see if Canon comes out with a wide-carriage version of the i960, that would be awesome!