I’m beginning to wonder if Canon is being taken over by reincarnated denizens of the 1950s auto industry. Make a few trivial changes (bigger tail fins!), slap a new model number on it, and roll it out the door as a “new” fall model. At least, it feels that way after recently testing a couple of Canon printers that are nearly identical to their predecessors. The Canon Pixma MP610 is only slightly changed from last year’s MP600, and now the Pixma iP4500 Photo Printer ($129.99 direct) has changed even less from last year’s iP4300 (there was no iP4400). At least the MP610 kept the same price as the model it replaced. In a move that’s counter to every expectation for anything related to computers, the iP4500 offers no discernible improvements over last year’s model while upping the price by 30 percent.
One measure of what a good value the iP4300 represented is that, even at the higher price, the iP4500 is one of the best standalone ink jet printers currently available for the home or home office, or as a personal printer in a larger office. But it doesn’t offer the same bang for the buck as the iP4300, which earns it a lower overall rating and keeps it from being an Editors’ Choice.
The iP4500’s paper handling is typical for Canon printers, which makes it better than most of the competition. Its two paper trays can hold 150 sheets of plain paper each. The 300-sheet total is a substantial amount of paper for a personal printer. If you’re using the iP4500 to print photos as well as text, you can switch between plain paper and photo paper without having to load and unload paper each time.