Canon doesnt exactly own the Editors Choice slot for standard desktop ink jets, but its been doing an awfully good job of monopolizing it for the last couple of years—starting with the Pixma iP4000, and then the Pixma iP4200. When I started testing the Pixma iP4300 Photo Inkjet Printer ($99.99 direct), the iP4200 still reigned supreme, and I couldnt help wondering whether this new model would improve much on it.
Well, it does. A lot. The iP4300 is faster, and cheaper, and it even offers a smidge better quality than the iP4200 does. And it retains welcome touches such as two paper trays, the ability to duplex automatically, and a PictBridge connector for direct printing from cameras. Not to keep you in suspense, it replaces the iP4200 not just in Canons line, but as our Editors Choice as well.
The paper handling features are typical for Canon ink jet printers and AIOs, but theyre worth special mention, because they arent typical for ink jets in general. Each of the paper trays can hold 150 sheets of plain paper, which is a substantial capacity for a home office or a personal printer in a larger office. If youre using the iP4300 as a home printer, you can load plain paper in one tray and photo paper in the other, so you can switch between standard printing and photos without having to load and unload paper each time. With either approach, the second tray is a highly useful convenience.
Setup is absolutely standard for a Canon ink jet printer. Find a place for the 6.3- by 17.5- by 12.0-inch (HWD) printer, plug in the power cord, snap in the print head and ink cartridges, load paper, plug in the USB cable, and run the automated setup program. One touch thats a little unusual is the ink system, with five ink cartridges to snap in. The iP4300 uses cyan, yellow, magenta, and two versions of black—a pigment-based black for better-looking text, and a dye-based black for better-looking photos.