Canon’s Pixma printers have traditionally been aimed at home users and photo hobbyists, but the latest additions to the range take a slightly more business-like approach. Here’s our Canon Pixma TR8550 review.
The new Pixma TR8550 is still intended for use at home, but is primarily designed for home workers who need to produce a wider range of documents, including presentations and marketing brochures, as well as high-quality photos. And, for office use, it’s also a four-in-one printer that includes a fax machine and automatic document feeder, in addition to its printer, scanner and copier features.
The inclusion of the fax machine and document feeder mean that the TR8550 is more expensive than other models in the Pixma range, with Canon quoting a price of £199.99 when buying directly from its web site.
However, we’ve seen it on Amazon and a few other online retailers for closer to £160. There’s also a second model, called the Pixma TR7550, which has the same four-in-one set of features, but is around £20 cheaper as it uses a smaller touch-screen control panel.
And don’t forget to look at our roundup of the best printers for other options.
Design and features
The TR8550 is well suited for use in a home office where space might be a little tight. Canon has managed to squeeze the four-in-one device down to a very compact 190mm high, 438mm wide and 351mm deep, so it can easily sit on a desk or on a nearby shelf without too much trouble.
Along with USB and Wi-Fi connectivity, the printer also includes an Ethernet port for wired networks, and supports Apple’s AirPrint for iOS devices, and Google Cloud print for everyone else.
The main paper tray in the base of the printer only holds 100 sheets, but there’s a second tray at the back with the same capacity. This will also allow you to feed in envelopes or glossy photo paper while you leave ordinary A4 office paper in the bottom tray. The document feeder on the top of the printer holds 20 sheets of paper, and the printer also supports two-sided (duplex) printing.
Our only minor complaint here is that the touchscreen isn’t terribly responsive, and occasionally needed a firm prod in order to select one of the on-screen menu options. It’s also worth mentioning that the TR8550 uses five separate coloured ink cartridges when printing. The four conventional cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks are still used for photo and graphics printing, but there’s also a special black pigment ink that is used purely for printing text.
Canon quotes speeds of 15 pages per minute for mono printing, 10ppm for colour and 37 seconds for a 4x6in photo print. In practice, we recorded speeds of 14ppm for mono, 7ppm for colour, and 45 seconds for photo prints, but those speeds should still be perfectly adequate for use in a small home office.
he pigmented black ink produces good quality for text documents – we did feel that text characters were a little too heavy to pass for ‘laser quality’, but the TR8550 won’t embarrass you when you’re putting together the business plan for your new Internet start-up.
Graphics and photo output are very good, producing finely detailed images with crisp, bold colours that will ensure that your presentations and marketing materials look great. However, the five-ink printing process does mean that you’ll need to think carefully about the type of documents you need to produce when you’re working at home.
As you might expect, using five separate inks means that running costs are a little higher than usual, and Canon also manages to make the cost calculations pretty tricky as well. Like most printer manufacturers, Canon sells both standard-size and XL cartridges that provide higher page yields and lower running costs.
However, it also sells larger ‘XXL’ cartridges as well, and really confuses things by quoting different page yields for each of the five coloured inks. The pigmented black ink cartridges used for text printing cost £11.49 and only last for 200 pages, which works out at an extravagant 5.7p per page.
The XL cartridges cost £15.49 but double the capacity to 400 pages, while the XXL cartridges cost £21.49 and last for 600 pages. That brings mono printing down to 3.9p for the XL cartridges and 3.6p for XXL – both of which are still relatively high, so the TR8550 won’t be ideal for people who only need to print lots of letters and simple text documents.
Fortunately, the TR8550 is more affordable when it comes to printing mixed text and graphics documents. The different page yields for each coloured ink make the calculations rather long-winded, but a complete set of four standard-size colour cartridges comes to about £42, with an average cost per page of 13.3p That’s well above average for an inkjet printer, but you can get much better value from the XL and XXL cartridges.
Four XL colour cartridges will cost £60 and bring the cost down to a more reasonable 9.2p per page, while the four XXL cartridges add up to a whopping £82, but do manage to bring the price down to a competitive 8p per page.