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Product: Pixma iP1500 printer
Relevance: Any photographer wishing to have a low-cost, but capable printer for a digital darkroom or back office.
Review: Canon's new Pixma iP1500 is the lowest cost model in Canon's new Pixma-based line-up. Designed for students and other cost-conscious buyers, the Pixma iP1500 is ideal for those who want good quality -- especially for photographic printing -- without going into debt.
The small footprint iP1500 fits nicely on cramped desks with a bare minimum of clearance. In fact, when we were setting up the printer we were concerned when we couldn't find an output tray for printed paper. Of course, most printers come with at least one output tray -- depending on the overall design and targeted use of the printer -- but the iP1500 comes standard without the tray.
At first, this omission puzzled us. How would the paper be ejected from the printer? Would the paper be damaged not having the output tray? Well, our questions were answered when the first page popped out. The paper is simply ejected onto the desk space in front of the printer. This design worked for us but we wondered if it would work in all circumstances. After all, if anything is left inadvertently in front of the printer, paper tends to curl up as it is ejected.
In text mode, printing is certainly capable. The iP1500 uses a four-cartridge system, with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black being the printer's base colors. On text printing, characters were crisp and clean although we did see some very slight "trailing" near the bottom of the mixed text/graphics page with a very heavy coverage.
The iP1500 is not the fastest printer we've seen recently, nor is it the slowest. For most jobs -- especially those involving text and moderate line graphics -- the iP1500's speed is certainly acceptable. Overall, we thought text and graphic output to be of very good quality, especially considering the low price of the iP1500.
Canon's software was, as usual, excellent, with no observable problems with installation, operation or removal. We tested the printer primarily using various Macintosh-based configurations, although we also installed and used the printer on numerous Windows-based computers with excellent results.
Color fidelity was excellent, with bright reds, blues and greens possible. Our resident Photoshop guru thought that color accuracy wasn't the iP1500's strong suit: some of the greens in her test photos printed with definite blue hues. Although not aimed at pro photographers, we thought the iP1500 produced acceptable color reproduction dealing with native-application color generation (such as those found in desktop publishing or vector-based graphic software) but ran into some color balancing problems with complex gamut photographic-based images built (or modified) in Photoshop.
We saw this situation illustrated when we printed out full color, application generated based-images with 100 percent coverage. The iP1500 gave us surprisingly good results when we selected the printer's maximum print quality and used specialized Photo paper. Even to our jaded eyes, the results we received from the iP1500 rivaled those from consumer quality silver halide technology. Nicely, the iP1500 can also print directly onto a CD-R or DVD-R disc, making one of the few printers we know that can do this so seamlessly.
The iP1500 prints at up to 4800 by 1200 dpi color resolution (600 by 600 dpi in black text) and is both PC and Mac compatible through its USB interface. The printer recognized a variety of operating systems including Windows XP/Me/2000/98, Mac OS 9.x, OS X v10.2.1 to 10.3.x.
We were also very impressed with the capacity of the ink jet cartridges, with hundreds of text-based test pages produced before the printer ran close to dry. We thought this would be a relatively inexpensive printer to operate over the long term. This in an era when printer manufacturers clearly make more money selling the after-sale consumables (such as ink cartridges and specialized paper) rather than the printer itself, the price and longevity of various consumables becomes increasingly important.
The iP1500 is also louder than we expected for such a small footprint printer. To put things in perspective, one certainly notices when the iP1500 is printing, but the noise is bearable and phone conversations can easily continue over the noise. We found that the printer's sound could easily be mitigated with "softer" surroundings or resting the iP1500 on some sound-deadening material.
We found the iP1500 a surprisingly capable printer, able to handle a variety of tasks with aplomb. Although not suitable for busy news bureaus, the printer can easily make writers and even small compers happy with its output.
End of Review
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