Canon – BJC-50 review

portable colour inkjet printer
Photo of Canon – BJC-50
£270 + VAT, £90 + VAT for scanning module

If the Godzilla marketing machine is anything to go by, size is important. Not only for computer-rendered simulated monsters, but also for portable colour inkjet printers such as this. According to Canon, the BJC-50 is the smallest printer of its type in the world, and certainly we’ve seen nothing quite as dinky as this. It’s like the BJC-80′s younger brother.

Despite its diminutive stature, however, the BJC-50 is quite a well-specified device, with a top resolution of 720 x 360 dots per inch. It is rather slow in this mode, though, so it’s better to stick with the standard 360 x 360dpi. The machine can print in black (K) or four colours (CMYK), depending on which cartridge is installed. One of each type is supplied, and the ink reservoirs can be changed without replacing the print head every time, which helps to keep the running costs low. Even so, the ink reservoirs are not exactly spacious, so don’t expect to churn out too many pages before they run dry.

Actually, you would find it rather hard to churn out too many pages, since the BJC-50 has no automated paper feed. Instead, each page must be fed in by hand, and then you have to click on the ‘OK’ button that the printer drivers – supplied for Windows 3.1x and Windows 95 – place in the middle of the screen for each new page. This is tiresome, but the BJC-50 is intended as a low-volume mobile printer, not a heavy-duty desktop machine, so we can forgive it for that. Forgiveness is made that much easier by the fact that the printer is supplied with a neat little internal Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack, in addition to the universal mains transformer. There’s also the optional scanner cartridge to consider – just replace the ink cartridge with the scanning module (shown in the photograph below) and you have a 360dpi sheet-fed scanner. Cleverness incarnate, we reckon.

The BJC-50 comes with its own parallel cable, which uses a non-typical interface, and also has an infra-red port, although this can only be used with Windows 95 systems. A power lock prevents the printer from switching on accidentally and draining the battery power. Despite its size, the BJC-50 produces pretty good quality text output and business graphics, although it can’t compete with photo-quality printers when it comes to producing realistic images. Top speed is a couple of pages per minute, but that will quickly drop to several minutes per page when you introduce any diagrams or boost the print quality settings.

Company: Canon

Contact: 0121 680 8062

Heavy duty and fast are two completely inappropriate descriptions of this printer. It's quite expensive too. But for those road warriors who simply have to be able to print while on the move, and without a mains power supply, this is what you're looking for. The optional scanner cartridge scores high in the posability stakes, as well.