Print quality for a portable printer is really very good. Canon’s FINE print technology produces ink drops as small as two pico litres and whether it’s this or the high-precision ink-placement, the overall result is exceptionally smooth colour transitions and sharply defined edges in photo images.
Text is also very sharp and clean-cut, providing high contrast for text pages. Colour graphics are bright and clean with no visible banding and good colour fidelity. A very impressive result from a compact printer like this.
Although you might expect a portable printer to produce painfully slow print, we were impressed by the results we achieved. While the printer is slower than equivalent desktop machines, it still managed to reproduce our five page text print in just 51 seconds, giving a print speed of around 6ppm. Our mixed text and graphics page completed in 35 seconds, or just under 2ppm.
It’s not surprising Canon has started selling the BCI-15 and BCI-16 cartridges in twin packs. Because of the necessarily small size of the cartridges, they don’t contain a lot of ink. Canon claims eighty five per cent pages of black or a hundred 20 per cent pages of colour. In our tests, we saw 122 and 98 pages, respectively, so not far out. Bear in mind, though, that printing black text uses colour ink too, to pre-load the paper and get denser black.
Using our page yield results, we calculate a black page to cost 5.8p and a colour one to cost 53p, though the majority of the colour cost is from Canon’s PP-101 glossy photo paper, which we couldn’t find for less than £7.99 including VAT (20 A4 sheets). The black text figure is on the high side. For comparison, the Canon PIXMA iP8500, tested earlier this year, cost 2.2p per page. You pay in consumables for the compact size of the iP90.
Canon’s PIXMA iP90 is a good attempt at a more compact ink-jet that you can take with you. Little is sacrificed in terms of print quality and the speed of the machine is also good, given is small size. It’s not that cheap to run, though and we would have liked to see more attention given to power provision. Carrying round a separate power supply – and possibly a separate external battery pack – doesn’t make for a true Print ‘n’ Go life.