Although the trend is definitely from ink-jet printers to all-in-one machines, there are still advantages to the single-function machine, which is smaller and slightly cheaper for the same specification level. Canon's new PIXMA iP4500 includes duplex printing, a PictBridge camera socket, dual paper trays and CD/DVD print facilities in a machine costing under £70.
Just about all Canon's printers and all-in-ones have the same silver and gloss-black livery, which is smart without being showy, and the iP4500 is a simple machine to set up and run. You fold up the rear section of the top cover for a 150-sheet paper feed tray, or slide out the 150-sheet cassette from under the front of the machine as a secondary paper source, and fold down the front cover to produce a very serviceable output tray.
There are just three buttons on the printer, for power, paper feed and paper source selection. A PictBridge socket below them at the front enables you to print from a camera. Flipping down an inner panel provides access to the CD/DVD slot, for which a disc carrier is provided with the printer. At the back are sockets for mains and USB 2.
There are five ink tanks, which need to be plugged into the head carrier and each of these is indicated with a red LED, which also flashes when ink is getting low. The software installation is painless and includes Easy PhotoPrint EX and a label printing applet, as well as the driver. This supports some interesting extras as well as duplexing and booklet printing.
You can print in sepia, which is not particularly surprising, but can specify a colour for monochrome printing too and simulate an illustration from a photo or apply the image optimiser, which aims to improve photos' contrast and brightness.
While the print speeds of this machine are not up to Canon's claims - and the company is fair enough to quote normal as well as draft print speeds - it produces black text pages reasonably quickly. It took 32 seconds to complete our five-page text print, equivalent to 9.4ppm, against a claim of just under 15ppm.