Canon PIXMA iP4950 all-in-one inkjet printer review

Wired multifunction printer for the home office
Photo of Canon PIXMA iP4950 all-in-one inkjet printer
£79

The Canon PIXMA iP4950 all-in-one inkjet is pitched at the sub-£80 price point where competition is rife, but we’re still rather surprised to see WiFi access missing from Canon’s latest budget printer for home offices.

A USB cable is the only way the iP4950 can link to a PC or Mac, though setup is pleasingly simple; our Samsung netbook located the drivers in seconds and began printing to the iP4950 with no problems. That’s good to know, though Canon does supply a suite of software and drivers on a set-up CD-ROM in the package.

Features
There’s not much to the iP4950, though its 431x297x153mm, 5.7kg design is rather unwieldy. Two paper trays are provided, both on the undercarriage of the printer (poorly designed and tricky to position correctly), and at the back of the top. Both are rather flimsy and the former juts out somewhat, but both are able to take around 150 sheets each. In the box is an add-on adapter tray that brings allows you to print straight to CD and DVD discs.

Canon PIXMA iP4950

There’s one special feature that ought to appeal to anyone who takes primarily video rather than still images, and wishes they could cull a few stills from their footage. The iP4950′s HD Movie Print feature lets you scan through each frame of a video and print whichever one you want as a convincing still picture.Sadly, iP4950 will only play with movies produced on Canon cameras, though anyone with one of the company’s popular D-SLR models may be pleased to see this inclusion.

One feature that’s thankfully becoming more common is duplex printing, and that’s onboard here, too; it means paper-saving is possible, as well as more creative productions such as double-sided booklets. A scanner also boosts its suitability in a home office.

Printing
Speed isn’t the iP4950′s special skill. After sending a photo for printing, our PC and the printer chatted loudly for over a minute and a half before printing started. When it started printing, it took 34 seconds to produce a 6x4in print – though busier, darker pictures took as long as 45 seconds to complete. That tendency to indulge in general duties prior to each print job is typical of the iP4950, and it quickly starts to grate.

Printing at 9600x2400dpi, general colour pages printed on regular A4 paper are issued at a rate of six pages per minute, and almost twice that for black and white, though the speeds are jolted upwards if draft quality is used instead.

The results from general documents are impressive, though photos can appear a touch warm; detailed enough and with plenty of vivid colour, convincing blacks and no sign of banding, but with overripe skin tones nonetheless. In a test frame of a sunset sky, the blues faded to grey and the whites appeared yellow – real-world accuracy is not the iP4950′s strongpoint.

Inks and costs
The iP4950 uses a suite of five ink tanks, with black, magenta, cyan and yellow ’526′ inks joining a pigment-based black ink, ’525′, for photo duties – the latter being an absolutely essential addition for anyone after an all-in-one with a serious chance at creating top-quality photos.

Not that doing so makes for a cheap-to-run printer. We found a multipack containing two examples of each available online for £26.95 (or around £15 for a pack of singles). Yields vary dramatically (yellow and cyan reach over 525 pages), but the pigment-based 526 black ink cartridge yields only 339 pages on average (Canon’s figures), so a full set works out at around 3.9p per page. Expensive, but we’ve seen a lot worse.

Company: Canon

Website: http://www.canon.co.uk/

Contact: Canon on 01737 220000

Positives
  • Low price, good value photos, fast printing.
Negative
  • Ugly, flimsy build quality, lacks WiFi, slow colour.

Verdict

It lacks the versatility of WiFi and it's not much to look at, but Canon's iP4950 is otherwise a reasonably good value all-rounder. Issuing decent quality, affordable photos as well as a scanner/copier and various creative options, the iP4950 is nevertheless a jack-of-all-trades offering that won't impress anyone after top-quality performance in any particular department.