Canon S900

The Canon S900 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. However you must consider that these individual ink tanks retail for about $11.99 each and the cost of the average Epson 5- color cartridge is $25 or less. You'll go through 2 to 3 of the light magenta and light cyan ink tanks for every one of the other colors so stock up on these. The Canon S9000 and S900 are color photo printers and have been optimized for this task. Normal text printing is not as good or as fast as that from lesser printers. The new Canon i850 is the narrow carriage King of the Hill as it is both an excellent photo printer and the fastest text printer I've ever used and it's only a 4- color printer. The S900'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. The actual 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. I've tested a number of different papers and as expected, the s900 and all other Canon photo printers that we've used make the best prints on real "Photo Pro" paper. Canon's Photo Paper Pro has the same "look and feel" of the best heavy-weight conventional photo lab paper. The downside is that it is more expensive than other photo papers. The most startling speed comparison can be seen when printing a borderless print. Epson printers slowly, micro-advance the paper both at the beginning and end of the print which doubles the normal print time. The Canon S900 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 S900 in less than a minute!  The Epson 890 takes about four minutes to make the same borderless 4x6" print. Installation on my Windows 98 SE 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 S900 is more than capable of being an 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 S900's print quality is "awesome" and looks like what I used to pay big bucks for at the local pro color lab back in my film days. I printed the majority of my images using the default "Quality 2" setting and in only one print did I see any visible banding in a large patch of open blue sky. I went back and looked at a lot of my other prints including those with lots of sky but didn't see any other banding problems. By re- printing the image again using the "1" setting the banding was eliminated completely. I 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. When the prints first come out of the printer they have a noticeable blue-green cast to them but this disappears in about 15 minutes as the ink fully dries. When the S900 (or S9000) is used under Windows 98 SE there is a chance that you might run into the same problem that I saw. Whenever I tried to print B&W prints they came out with either a blue or green "tint" to them. Even if the "Grayscale printing" option was used and even if the source image was completely desaturated to grayscale. This problem was not encountered when the S9000 was installed on my new Windows XP Pro machine, it now prints perfect B&W with no other colors mixed in. Price, performance and economy, the Canon S900 Photo Printer is an excellent value. And in today's world where your time is the most valuable commodity, the S900 can literally pay for itself in increased productivity. If you have a need to make larger prints then look at the Canon S9000 wide carriage printer. It is identical to the S900 except it handles up to A3 (13x19") paper and prints at the same speed and quality.