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9/10

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Canon PIXMA iP1900 Colour Inkjet

We regularly spend time reviewing printers costing anything up to £2,000, but you can get a very reasonable inkjet printer for around £35, and Canon's PIXMA iP1900 is a very reasonable inkjet. It may have few of the bells and whistles of more expensive machines, but it can turn out plain text pages, colour graphics and more than passable glossy photos, with very little complaint.

The iP1900 is decked out entirely in black plastic, though, apart from two front corner panels, they don't shine like a Steinway. For anybody trying to take a picture of this printer, that's great news. Instead, the determinedly matte black case looks somehow purposeful, compared with more fashionable shiny plastic devices.

The rear paper tray folds down onto the front cover, completing the practical lines of this giant lozenge-shaped printer. There's no output tray and paper feeds instead straight onto the desktop. This can be a bit of a disadvantage if you don't have a deep enough desk to catch the sheets. There are just two control buttons, each with inset green leds, one for power and the other for paper feed and to cure jams.

At the back is a two-core mains socket and at the side, slightly inconveniently, is a USB socket. Overall, the printer takes up surprisingly little room on the desktop, particularly compared with other Canon inkjet printers.

There are two combined ink and print-head cartridges which clip into a head carrier inside the iP1900. One uses a pigmented black ink and the other contains cyan, magenta and yellow dye-based inks. Both slip into place, but need to be pushed upwards to click into their holders, which can be a little fiddly until you get the hang of it.

In a gesture towards the tight budget that must have controlled the design of this printer, there's no automatic head alignment, but instead you have to print out an alignment sheet and feed in offset figures to get the two heads working accurately together.

The standard suite of Canon support software is provided with the printer and this includes Easy-PhotoPrint EX, which handles most of the standard kinds of print you might want to produce, including a more than half-decent CD and DVD labelling program. While this printer has no facilities for direct disc printing, it'll print onto disc labels quite happily. There are no facilities for editing images within PhotoPrint EX.

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