One of the main differences between the Canon PIXMA iP4950 and its predecessor is an increased speed claim for black print. Under test this proved to be accurate, with a top measured speed of 9.4ppm. This is high for an inkjet printer and very high for one costing little over £50.
Measuring speeds on this machine is not that easy, as it often performs housekeeping before starting to print and this takes varying lengths of time. We tried to take best case results, as we always do. The 20-page print gave 9.2ppm and the five-page text and colour graphics pages produced 4.7ppm; both, again good speeds.
Canon has obviously done some work on its duplex print mechanism or on its black ink composition, or both. The result is that there’s a much shorter pause between printing the first and second sides of each page and a correspondingly higher duplex speed. While it’s still not the quickest on the block, our 20-side document gave a speed of 3.5spm. Compare this with the 2.9spm of its predecessor.
It would be tempting, but entirely inaccurate, to restate that higher speed normally means lower print quality. In the case of this Canon machine the print quality is no problem at all, with black text looking smooth and well-formed. There's very slight spatter around emboldened headings, but nothing to worry about.
Likewise colour print is smooth and dense with no signs of banding and good registration of black over colour. Reverse text is also clean. Photographic prints are up to Canon's normal high standards and shadow detail, often a problem on lower cost machines, is well reproduced here.
Even when two machines use the same ink cartridges, we check online prices in each case, as they do fluctuate. Here we found the pigmented black ink had dropped in price, giving page costs of 2.8p for a black page and 8.0p for a colour one. The black cost sits pretty much in the middle of the range and the colour cost is comparatively low, a very good result on a low-cost printer.
Canon has looked at the minor problems in its PIXMA iP4850 and addressed each in the design of the iP4950. To offer an inkjet printer with dual paper sources, direct CD print, excellent photo output – including directly from cameras – and increased speed on both single and double-sided pages, all for under £60, is quite an achievement. Well done Canon.