If you print a lot of 4x6 photos and need a quick, versatile photo printer, you can't beat the Windows- and Mac-compatible Canon i900D. If 4x6 photo printing is not necessarily your thing, or if you don't care about features, such as a mini LCD panel or direct-from-the-camera printing, you can save $100 with the Canon i860, which offers excellent text printing as well.
This smart-looking, two-tone, silvery-beige and dark-gray plastic printer sells for about $250. Anyone with a PictBridge-compatible digital camera or camcorder or other Canon Bubble Jet Direct camera can begin printing pictures simply by connecting their camera's USB cable to the direct-print port on the i900D's lower-front panel.
The two card-reader slots in the center of the i900D's main control panel present a secondary straight-from-the-source printing option. These slots accommodate most of the popular camera memory cards. (You can also purchase a special adapter for more-esoteric camera-card types, such as xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick Duo, and mini-SD Card.) Once a camera card is placed into the appropriate slot, matching green lights appear on the card reader and the i900D's control panel. Photos from the camera card then appear on the printer's mini LCD panel. From there, a quick scroll through the settings menu via the round-buttoned control panel offers paper type, photo size, and various photo-quality printing options. Finally, when you connect the i900D (via USB only, unfortunately--no FireWire) to a computer, the printer assumes the role of a camera-card memory reader, and it's able to preview, print, or save photos to the hard drive from the camera card.
Adding to its overall value, the i900D comes with a generous range of software that includes programs such as PhotoStitch, Easy-PhotoPrint, PhotoRecord (PC only), ZoomBrowserEX (PC only), Easy-WebPrint (PC with Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6 only), and ImageBrowser (Mac). A one-touch press of the PhotoViewer button on the printer sends images from the camera card straight to the computer screen. Want to quickly save those pictures to your hard drive? Just hold the PhotoViewer button on the control panel for three seconds, and, voilà, the data from the card is instantly saved to a folder on your computer's hard drive.
In CNET Labs speed tests, the i900D printed an 8x10, color test photo on Canon Photo PaperPro in 2.7 minutes per page (mpp), a tad slower than the 2.0mpp taken by its less-full-featured sibling, the Canon i960, but quite a bit faster than the 5.3mpp of the slightly more expensive HP Photosmart 7960.
All of its features would be moot if the i900D's print quality wasn't of an equally high standard. Fortunately, the i900D's print quality is very good. Our test photos, printed out via default settings only, were extremely detailed, sharp, clear, and colorful. Our only complaint is that the i900D has a tendency to overaccentuate the yellow end of the color spectrum.
Inkjet printer text speed (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Pages per minute|
Inkjet color-photo speed test (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Minutes per pages|