Canon updates its Bubble Jet technology, with smaller droplets, 25-year print life, great color, and great print speed!
Page 2: Overview
Review First Posted: 05/09/2001
MSRP $299 US
Right from the outset, we'd like to say that we were truly impressed with this
printer. Color was excellent, printing was very fast, and we loved the economy
of individual ink cartridges for each color. The S800 also marks the debut of
Canon's new ink/paper formulation, which promises a 25-year fade life -- far
beyond what consumers have had to settle for in years past.
The Canon S800 Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer is the latest in a long line
of Canon inkjet printers that span an incredibly wide range of prices, sizes,
and capabilities. With this new model, Canon is clearly tapping into its extensive
photographic background to produce a printer uniquely suited to photographic
output. Billed as the "The Professional Photo Printer You'd Expect from
Canon" (a designation with which we'd have to agree), the S800 is a no-excuses
professional-level product, with a consumer-level price tag, that will doubtless
find many a happy home among amateur photo enthusiasts. Its image quality, longevity,
and print speed all place it in the "professional" category, but the
low price and very user-friendly operation make it a good choice for consumers
as well. Best of all, its high resolution and separate color ink tanks mean
you can use it without penalty for ordinary home-office, text-oriented print
jobs -- making it an ideal all-around printer.
Compact and lightweight, the S800 will fit on almost any desktop, with a space-saving
sliding output tray that retracts when not in use. The printer measures 17.7
x 13.5 x 8.2 inches (450 x 343 x 208mm) with the output tray retracted, and
17.7 x 19.8 x 8.2 inches (450 x 503 x 208mm) with the tray extended. It weighs
just 13 pounds (5.9 kg), ready to go.
Included in the box are a set of six ink cartridges, one for each printing
color, a pair of CD-ROMs with both Mac and Windows software, a power cord, and
a USB-Based CompactFlash memory card reader (the Microtech Zio). Canon also
provides a small package of its ultra-glossy Photo Paper Pro, micro-perforated
to make 4 x 6-inch borderless prints from your digicam files. (Note that the
card reader doesn't attach directly to the printer. It's intended to provide
a simple way to download digital camera images to your computer for printing
on the S800.)
The bundled software includes Photo Record, a slick photo album application
for the PC; ImageBrowser, a nice browser tool for the Mac; and PhotoStitch,
Canon's excellent panorama-stitching application for both platforms. We found
PhotoRecord to be a little balky on our aging, overloaded PC, but the other
applications worked well.
The six-cartridge printing process not only produces excellent photographic
images, it also saves you money. Many inkjet printers bundle multiple ink colors
in one or two cartridges, so if you run out of one color, you have to throw
away the entire cartridge (whether the other colors are depleted or not). The
S800 uses a separate cartridge for each color, so if you run out of Photo Cyan
(for instance), you only have to replace the cyan. Likewise, if you do a lot
of black-and-white printing (business letters, invoices, etc), you'll only have
to replace the black cartridge. If you print a wide variety of subjects, ink
usage tends to "average out" across the colors, but in our own printing,
we've often found that we end up printing a lot of images with similar colors
or color casts. (For instance, a batch of indoor shots with a slight yellow
cast from room lighting, sunset shots with red skies, or landscape photos with
lots of green.) When this happens, we quickly exhaust whatever ink color dominants
the photos, while the other wells of the cartridge remain relatively full. This
is an expensive waste of ink. With Canon's cartridge-per-color approach, such
waste is completely eliminated.
The S800 printing speed is exceptionally fast, particularly when compared to
other high-quality photo inkjet printers. The "Super" default quality
settings for Canon's Photo Paper Pro result in only two-minute print times for
full-page images. Boosting the quality setting to the maximum level (which produced
no visible benefit that we could detect), increased the print times to only
four minutes per page. This is much faster than other photo-quality inkjet
printers we've tested, particularly ones that fall within the S800's price range.
We also found per-print costs to be very reasonable, at roughly $1.25 per page
based on list prices, or $1.10 per page for projected street prices.
The Windows-based Photo Record software offers a very flexible interface for
creating custom photo albums, with either automatic, semi-automatic, or manual
placement of images, plus a wide variety of frames, backgrounds, and text styles.
(We had a fair amount of trouble getting Photo Record to work, but chalked it
up to our overloaded PC. The other Canon applications worked fine.) Canon's
Image Browser application provided many of the same capabilities as Photo Record
on the Mac, including convenient thumbnail image browsing and easy printing
of multiple photos per page, though it did not have the elaborate album design
features. Canon's cross-platform PhotoStitch is a very capable application for
"stitching" together multiple digital images into large panoramas
on both PC and Mac. Overall, a very capable software assortment.