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Mar. 1, 2024

Canon S800 Color Bubble Jet

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

Executive Overview

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.



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