It's testament to just how good Canon's inkjets are that so little innovation continually keeps them at the top of the tree. The Pixma iP4850 is physically identical to the outgoing Pixma iP4700, with the same low profile and glossy finish, and in terms of printing there are only small changes under the hood.
The five-colour ink system is still in place, with both pigmented and dye-based blacks to ensure text and images both see the benefit. Any difference in print quality is therefore pretty much imperceptible, with the same perfect colour tones and sharp detail in photos and diagrams. Text is bold and blemish-free, and the iP4850 prints two-sided as well as directly onto optical discs with the supplied tray.
The only instantly noticeable upgrade is in document speed. Its predecessor's measured rates of 8.8ppm in mono and 5.8ppm in colour have been bumped up slightly, to 10.5ppm and 6.1ppm respectively. Other than that it's more of the same, with a top-quality 6 x 4in print still taking 46 seconds and our A4 photomontage falling into the tray in 1min 38secs.
Interestingly, where Canon has tried to break new ground is in the accompanying software and tools. The iP4850 uses new PGI-525 and CLI-526 inks, but the advantage isn't in extra capacity; instead the tanks are chipped, and owners using a full set of genuine Canon inks will find they have exclusive access to Creative Park Premium - an extension of Canon's existing art and creativity website.
It's filled with "photos and illustrations from world-renowned artists", including the likes of Norman Rockwell and Beatrix Potter. The images are yours to use freely, and the site lets you turn them into all sorts of cards, calendars and other creations. It's not must-have stuff, but it's a neat bonus.
If that doesn't excite, the other new addition is the Full HD Movie Print function. If you have a Canon EOS or PowerShot camera capable of recording HD video, this function grabs a still from any scene, enhances it and prints it as a high-quality photo. Hardly a mainstream feature, and it's a shame that more video types aren't supported, but we can see the appeal.
But that's it. Same USB interface and PictBridge port, same two paper trays and same above-average running costs. There's frankly nothing at all here to tempt owners of the iP4700 to upgrade, but you get the feeling Canon knows only too well how good its printers currently are.
With the Pixma it's a case of not messing with a winning formula: it's still the fastest all-round inkjet on the market and none can match the quality of its prints. So without doing an awful lot new or exciting the iP4850 steals onto the A List - for home printing there's simply no competition.
See original review from PC Pro
Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing
Issue: 316 | July 2013
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