Canon S820

The Canon S820 is 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. However you must consider that these individual ink tanks retail for about $11.99 and the cost of the average Epson 5-color cartridge is around $25. The 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. The print quality is outstanding, especially considering that it outputs a full page 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. We used Canon Photo Paper Pro, 8.5x11" and 4x6" size for the majority of our print tests. We've tested a number of different papers and as expected, the S9000 made the best prints on its own "Photo Pro" paper. Canon's Photo Paper Pro is also some of the most expensive paper of all the manufacturer-specific photo papers so this must be factored into the "per print" costs. So far the best matte paper that I've used is Epson's Matte Paper Heavyweight, it's an excellent choice for portrait or other pictures that you don't want printed on glossy media. The Canon S820 literally blows away the Epson printers when making borderless prints. Epson printers slowly, micro-advance the paper both at the beginning and end of the print cycle which doubles the normal print time. The Canon S820 only slows down slightly at the end, other than that it speeds along whether printing in bordered or borderless mode. A normal 4x6" borderless print comes out of the S820 in about a minute and twenty-five seconds!  The Epson 890 takes about four minutes to make the same print. Installation on my Windows XP Pro 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 S820 is more than capable of being an all-purpose color and text printer too. The key is simplicity, instead of numerous and often mind-boggling print time options (selecting output "dpi" resolution, 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 S820's print quality is "awesome" and looks like what you get from a pro color lab if you can remember the "good old" days. I even got acceptable 8.5x11" prints from full-frame Canon A30 (1-megapixel) images using the Photo Optimizer PRO setting but you really need at least 2- megapixel or higher resolution images when making prints that size. The 4x6" borderless prints look exactly like real film prints and seriously doubt that anybody can tell the difference unless using an 8x loupe. if you need everything in the S820 plus a built-in card reader and standalone print capabilities. If you want an even faster printer check out our reviews of the Canon S900 Photo Printer. And if you need to print up to A3 size (13x19") paper there's the Canon S9000 wide carriage Photo Printer. These printers use the same Canon Ink Tanks but feature a printhead with an amazing 3,072 nozzles that gives them the faster print times of all the current inkjet photo printers.