Canon fodder

II’m in the process of moving my iMac towards a System upgrade to ‘Snow Leopard’ (OS 10.6), Apple’s reworking of the operating system. It doesn’t have a lot of new facilities, but has had a complete rewrite, removing a lot of outdated code, so that it runs faster and should be more stable. I’m waiting for the latest update to 10.6.3 to come out - it’s expected shortly - but in the meantime I installed it on another hard disk temporarily to test it out. There are dangers of older software being incompatible, but so far almost everything seems to work OK. The main problem is printers; Apple have completely re-written the printing system to use Unix’s CUPS, and so every manufacturer has needed to rewrite its drivers. This has been done for most recent printers, and embedded into the System intallation (usefully, where older systems installed masses of drivers, this one looks for your printer(s) and installs only the necessary drivers).

Unfortunately Hewlett-Packard (HP) have declined to update the driver for my Deskjet 990cxi printer (right) which is now some years old: I suppose that one can't expect older equipment to be supported for ever, but this is a good printer, and wasn't cheap, so I'm not pleased to be effectively told by their website to go and buy a new printer.

Apple include an open-source driver called Gutenprint which will recognize the printer, but it won’t do the automatic double-sided printing, and the colour results aren’t quite as good - a block area of yellow has a lot of miniscule orange dots in it and no adjustment I've been able to find will remove them. There also a mechanical problem with the printer: the plastic clip holding the black cartridge in place has broken on one side: it still works, but if the other side breaks - as it will, sooner or later - the printer will probably become unusable (and it’s not possible to repair this). So I decided to buy a new printer rather than wait for the present one to fail: by rearranging some books I’ve managed to find room for both of them so I can keep the old one as a spare, as long as it still works.

After some deliberation I bought a Canon ‘PIXMA’ IP4700 (left); it’s an inkjet positioned as a photo printer; my HP, and a modern one by them I looked at - the OfficeJet 8000 Pro (which is very large and heavy) - are meant as office printers and tend to be more robust; but they don’t do photos quite as well, and as I don’t do an awful lot of printing the Canon should be fine. Some reviews of this felt that the paper cassette was flimsy and difficult to insert, but I didn't find any difficulty with it - the printer seems robust enough for domestic use though I wouldn't recommend it for a busy office.

On proper paper the photos results are excellent: the printer uses finer droplets than the HP, and has the three colours in separate cartridges rather than three colours in one; it also has two black cartridges, one for text and one for use in photos to give the blacks more solidity. The results are impressive: impossible to tell from a shop-made photo print.

It’s quite fast, has automatic double-sided printing, and two paper holders - a cassette at the bottom for plain paper, and a holder at the rear for photo and odd-sized paper as well as plain. It lacks the HP's ability to auto-detect the type of paper in use, but it does have one trick the HP doesn’t; it will print on recordable CD or DVD labels (you have to use printable blank media, not just ordinary ones) - in the photo you can see the tray holding the CD, though as I don’t have any printable ones the CD in it is an ordinary one. It’s not a function I expect to make much use of, though.

Posted: Wed - March 17, 2010 at 09:20 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM