Refillable ink tank printers are not new — Epson has had models out for the past couple of years — but it is certainly a tacit acknowledgement from Canon that a SOHO printer is no longer merely a vehicle to use expensive ink. The catch is simply that you pay a little more upfront for these types of printers so it is only of benefit to power users.
This review covers the top of the range, $559, Endurance G4600 available from Officeworks. The entry level G2600 costs $429.
Canon packs its printers well – masses of orange tape secure every part during transit. But set-up was extra easy – remove the tape, install the two print heads (colour and black) and pour the contents of the black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink into the tanks.
After heeding my wife’s advice of placing the printer on a newspaper before filling the tanks – she is always right – tank filling began. Black – fine, cyan - fine, magenta - fine, yellow – oops. Yellow ink all over my fingers (it stains for a few days – not even nail polish remover removes it).
To be fair to Canon, this was not its fault. I shook the ink bottles perhaps a little too vigorously and squirted the final drops into the tank causing a bit of a bubble back-blast. No harm to the printer! Note that Canon quote 7000 colour and 6000 black pages from the four bottles. I was tempted to test this, but international reviews beat me to it and confirm the claims.
Once filled, I sited the reasonably compact 445 x 330 x 197 mm x 7.2kg printer, plugged in the power and hit the power switch. It went through about 10 minutes of initialisation and pushed out a test print. It is auto-off and on after that.
Concurrently I downloaded the software from www.canon.com/ijsetup and within a few minutes, it had found the printer, set up the Wi-Fi (without me having to enter an IP address or password) and pushed out another test print page. Simple. You can also use an Ethernet cable or a USB cable.
Note that Wi-Fi uses the 2.4GHz band that provides the longest range. Signal strength was fine up to about 50 metres away.
It is a typical office charcoal black, relatively compact device and while that is fine I really loved Canon’s differentiation with fire engine red, gold, white and two-tone bronze/black on some consumer models. Can we add some glam to the office as well or perhaps glowing ink tanks?
A SOHO printer needs to last years in a small office environment where you can’t count on tender loving care.
Build quality is commensurate with SOHO use. Of course, any heavy-handed treatment is going to stress the plastic paper tray or scanner cover but it is up to the job – certainly a step up over a consumer grade printer.
Paper handling/print quality
The G4600 uses a rear paper tray/hatch that holds about 100 A4, 80gsm sheets and the front eject tray holds 50 sheets. This is adequate for SOHO use where you can see if the printer has paper or not.
It will print borderless on A4 and supports anything down to business card size in weights up to 275gsm.
Most will use it with typical $5 a ream, A4, bond paper and frankly while cheap, it is like printing on a sponge as it sucks in the ink and removes any semblance of detail or gloss. Still, it is what most use.
If you look around, you can find lighter weight 115-150gsm coated stock (sometimes called matt or semi-gloss art paper) that makes the same page have eye-popping sharpness and colour depth.
In standard mode on A4 bond using a mix of images, photos and text, the quality was as good as any quality inkjet with crisp black text and detailed photos. First page out was 20 seconds and total print time for four pages was 80 seconds – very good for a SOHO printer.
In high-quality mode on A4 bond, the same four pages took four minutes, but the quality difference, not so much in the colours but in the greyscale and highlights, was visibly superior.
I tested the same images on a coated stock in standard and high-quality modes – there was no difference in print speed, but the colour quality and depth were superb – near photo quality.
It is not a photo printer but the permanent black dye and colour pigment based ink produces highly acceptable results on 6" x 4” photo stock, importantly with no colour banding as you find on many inkjet printers.
Summary: The G4600 produced some of the most accurate colours from an inkjet that I have seen for a long time – where the choice of paper more affects fine definition and highlights.
MFP – multifunction printer
The G4600 will make up to 99 copies, each at the maximum speed of about 20 seconds a page. In tests, the first to the last were the same quality.
If has an ADF (auto document feed) for up to 20 pages for single-sided scanning. An A4 colour page scans at 300dpi in about 19 seconds. That also doubles for the fax feeder. Canon’s U Scan utility will make JPEG or PDF and save to any location on the computer, office network, or send it to an app or email.
You can choose low, standard or high scan settings. It will also scan and stitch (useful for oversize book scanning), and create a PDF that supports keyword search.
It will send a mono fax page in a few seconds and a colour fax takes about a minute. It has a 19-memory location dialler.
Summary: The copier, scanner and fax are all suitable for SOHO use. Network and app/email support are good.
Perhaps my only negative comment is that the minuscule two-line dot LCD is very dated and it would have been nice to see a larger display. Still, it did the job albeit in very small “chunks” although all settings can be done via a computer.
All the functions could be accessed from the keypad obviating the use of a computer. It was logically laid out and did not require reading the manual to use it.
I did not try them all but Canon has nine downloadable apps for this printer:
- Pixma/MAXIFY Cloud Link prints from photo sharing sites
- Google Cloud Print and Mopria support
- Apple AirPrint
- Android Print
- Canon PRINT Inket/SELPHPY for Dropbox etc.
- Direct connection (print/scan from a smart device without using the network)
- My Image Garden (manipulate pictures into cards, calendars etc)
- Easy-PhotoPrint+ (create or edit items on the web and print)
- PosterArtist Light (create posters)
I tested Google and Android print both via the cloud and via the network and they worked well.
It has drivers for Windows, MacOS and I understand it even supports Windows RT and Linux.
Print costs - five stars!
The ink bottle costs $24.99 for each colour and $29.99 for black, totalling $104.96 – about 1.5 cents per page in colour making it a very low-cost option. As it uses the same ink — GI690BK, GI690C, GI690M, GI690Y — as the other Endurance models, shop around and you may get it even cheaper in value packs.
As a SOHO printer, I would expect it to last at least three years and print at least 1000 pages a month – that would result in great total cost of ownership.
Price and availability
The G4600 is exclusive to Officeworks and costs $559.
Canon generally makes good gear. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at the value and quality of this network/Wi-Fi/cloud enabled SOHO printer and its low, make that very low, ink costs. It will stand up to prosumer and SOHO use and apart from being “boring black” it does everything a refillable ink tank printer should so it gets the recommendation.
OK, it does not have auto-duplex printing, nor duplex scanning, but these features will cost nearly twice as much.