If you’re trying to print a big notice, a motivational poster or covers for an A4 document, an A4 printer just won’t do. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of A3 devices around and they needn’t cost the earth to buy. Canon’s PIXMA iX6550 is a full-bleed A3 device costing under £160 and is designed to be quick with it.
Yet another printer finished off with a high-gloss black top, at least this one has textured black around its sides, so there's one less surface to wipe free of fingerprints. Being a medium-format printer, the paper tray at the back and the output tray at the front increase the machine's footprint considerably, but since both are telescopic, you don't have to have them fully extended when printing smaller sizes. The printer can take paper down to 15 x 10cm and up to A3, with borderless printing all the way up.
The only physical controls are two silvered buttons on the front panel for Power and Job Cancel. There are no memory card slots or PictBridge/USB socket, which seems odd. It always seems peculiar that a printer designed for larger paper, which will inevitably be brought into homes and businesses where there's an increased interest in photographic images, should have no direct access to those files.
While appreciating that card slots also need an LCD display for image selection, a PictBridge socket costs very little to implement and enables photos to be printed directly from a camera, using the camera’s monitor for selection.
A single USB socket at the back is the only method of data connection and software, which is provided for Windows and OS X, doesn't go much further than a driver and Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint and Solution Menu applets. The driver is well designed and capable of handling all the key functions of the PIXMA iX6550.
Lift the top cover and the head carrier swings to the centre carriage position, so you can clip in the semi-permanent printhead and the five ink cartridges. These include two blacks, one for text print on plain paper and the other for photo black, to accentuate the darker greyscales in photo images.