Canon has revamped its BJC-6000 bubble-jet printer to produce the BJC-6100. Improvements are significant: the price has been cut, a USB interface is now standard, maximum print speed is marginally up from 8ppm to 9ppm and you now have the option of a snap-in £50 720dpi colour scanner module. The BJC-6000′s original strengths are also retained: it’s reasonably quiet, both mono and colour print quality is very good and, currently unique to Canon in this class, when you run out of one of the colour inks all you need to do is replace that one ink rather than waste remaining ink for the other colours in the more usual multiple ink tank systems.
The BJC-6100 is more functional than pretty. Rather reminiscent of Epson rather than other current and recent Canon models, there is a pull-down telescoping paper rest which doubles as a cover for the paper exit. To access the print heads you lift a flap in the centre of the case. If the printer is switched on the print heads will automatically move to the centre of the unit in order to be accessible for cartridge changing. This also means you can’t peek at the printing while it is in progress any more.
Canon currently chooses to use separately replaceable print heads into which the ink tanks are inserted. Ink tanks each cost around £7 and a print head pack with three colour ink tanks costs £30. If you use the optional colour photo print head a total of six ink tanks will be installed, each of which can be replaced as and when required. For non-photo work a higher capacity black print head and replaceable ink tank is supplied as standard and this works in tandem with the basic colour print head. Printing resolution is 1440 by 720dpi, which matches Epson’s Stylus printer range but doesn’t quite match Lexmark’s 1200 by 1200dpi technology. Despite that, there is no discernible disadvantage in resolution terms compared to either Epson or Lexmark.
Incidentally, the BJC-6100 out-guns its more expensive sibling, the Canon BJC-7100, which has a maximum resolution of 1200 by 600dpi. The 7100 is more expensive but its price tag justification looks very weak compared to the 6100. It’s slower, doesn’t offer USB, has a lower resolution and doesn’t have the 6100′s natty replaceable ink tanks. Its one main advantage is that it uses plain paper optimised printing (PPOP), though it hasn’t been very easy to find anyone particularly impressed with that feature.
Our tests showed that the BJC-6100 is commendably fast, producing an A4 photo print a couple of minutes faster than its main rivals without sacrificing print quality, and standard mode textual output in black-and-white ranges between five and eight pages per minute depending on the content of page. We were able to match the claimed 9ppm throughput of the printer but only by using lower quality draft mode to print a short letter page.
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