With the steady increase in sales of notebook PCs, the demand for portable printers to take with them is also growing. Canon has just such a printer in its latest PIXMA range, the iP90, designed to offer quality print in a very compact envelope. Using a similar mechanism to that of its Selphy DS700 photo printer but with the addition of a separate black cartridge, the iP90 still ends up as a very compact unit.
The silver and black case is slightly longer and thicker, but less deep, than a mid-range notebook. Fold up the top cover and it becomes a paper feed tray for up to 30 sheets of regular office paper. A small cover underneath drops down at the same time, so paper can exit from the front of the printer to the desk surface.
The only controls are power and paper feed buttons in the centre of the printer’s top surface and there’s a single green led which shows power on and data reception when in use.
Down the left-hand side are sockets for a USB 2.0 cable and the low-voltage input from the separate small-brick power supply. On the right-hand side is a connector for a PictBridge camera and an infra-red transceiver. There’s an optional Bluetooth dongle that can be used with the device, too.
Although the iP90 is designed as a portable printer, a battery pack isn't included. This optional extra costs a hefty £65 at street prices and doesn't fit inside the printer case, connecting instead via a small socket at the rear of the device. This is a cumbersome solution – a shame the pack couldn't be designed to slot in somewhere.
Setting the printer up is very simple. Lift the secondary, black top cover and the print-head carrier slides to the centre of the carriage, where you can service the cartridges. Black and tri-colour cartridges clip into place very easily and the printer automatically primes them once you’ve closed the cover again.
Canon supplies a good suite of software to support the iP90, with its Easy PhotoPrint, PhotoRecord and the useful Easy-WebPrint utilities. Easy-WebPrint automatically adjusts the width of web pages so that they fit the page width of the paper you're using.
The Canon driver provides good coverage of the features of the iP90, including manual duplexing, stamps and watermarks and simple photo effects. There’s also the Print Advisor, a quick way to set up the correct parameters for common print tasks, such as printing plain text or photos.