Canon updates its Bubble Jet technology, with smaller droplets, 25-year print life, great color, and great print speed!
Page 6: Test Results & Conclusion
Review First Posted: 05/09/2001
MSRP $299 US
The Canon Bubble Jet S800 produced absolutely beautiful prints in our testing,
far surpassing our expectations for high-end inkjet technology. While photomicrographs
of the printed output showed dots under magnification, they were completely
invisible to the naked eye, and tonal gradations were exceptionally smooth,
even in the difficult highlight areas. While we've said in the past that dye-sublimation
printers do a better job of "fooling" us into believing their output
was produced photographically, the S800's output made true believers of us.
It's hard to imagine how the output quality could have been any better, at least
to the naked eye.
Tonal range was excellent, with deep, rich blacks, and clean highlights. We
were also pleased to see that color information is well-preserved in the deep
shadow areas, a decided advantage over lower-end inkjet printers that sometimes
back off on the inks in darker areas.
The S800's 2,400 x 1,200 dpi dot pitch is the highest currently available in
inkjet printers (May 2001), and it shows in the exceptionally fine detail and
crisp edges we obtained in our test prints. The high dot pitch and very small
droplet size also contributed to unusually fine tonal gradations, even in the
highlight areas. (The smaller number of ink droplets deposited in highlight
areas frequently leads to a "grainy" appearance in inkjet prints.
To the naked eye, no such graininess was apparent in any of the our test prints.)
We've occasionally seen odd "jaggies" in photos when the image resolution
didn't exactly match the resolution of the output device. For the record, we
saw no such behavior in the S800. The greatly enlarged samples below compare
the S800's output with that from a high-end dye-sublimation printer (the Olympus
P-400), and a lower-end 600 x 1,200 dpi resolution consumer photo inkjet printer
(the Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200). We were impressed by the combination
of fine detail and smooth gradations that the S800 produced.
The photo above shows the results of an image printed
on the Olympus P-400 at a resolution of 314 dpi. (Higher source image
resolution actually resulted in more "jaggies" along the line
of the white trim, due to poor resampling in the printer driver software.
The image above was printed on the Canon S800
printer. The source image had a resolution of 400 dpi, while the printer
engine resolution was set to 2,400 x 1,200 dpi.
Comparing this result to that from the $999 Olympus P-400 dye-sub printer
(at left above), the image seems sharper, edges are crisper, and finer
detail is visible, thanks to the 2,400 x 1,200 dpi accuracy with which
individual ink droplets are laid down. Being a true continuous-tone
device, the P-400 still edges the S800 in terms of smoothness, but as
a practical matter, the S800's dots (just visible in this greatly magnified
view) are entirely invisible to the naked eye.
Compared to the lower-end Kodak/Lexmark Personal Picture Maker printer
at left, the S800's resolution is clearly higher, and the individual
ink dots less visible. Really no surprise, given the finer pitch and
smaller droplet size specs, but the differences are quite evident.
This image was printed on the Kodak Personal Picture
Maker 200, with the printer set at 600 x 1,200 dpi. (The source image
had a resolution of 400 dpi.)
The S800's output was crisp, smooth, and highly detailed. It showed no problems with image resampling within the driver software, which we've occasionally seen with other printers. Its resolution and detail were superb. It resolved more detail than a 314 dpi dye-sub printer, which is somewhat of a standard in image quality for our testing, while giving up little in smooth highlight gradations. Overall, a very impressive performance!
Overall, the Canon Color Bubble Jet S800 showed excellent color rendition, exceptional resolution, and surprisingly high print speed. We felt it easily deserved the sobriquet "The Professional Photo Printer You'd Expect From Canon." The "Professional" designation is easily justified in terms of quality, while the price and media cost make it accessible for consumers. Combine all this with a two-minute print time for letter-size pages, and a 25-year print life rating, and we think you'll agree that Canon has a real winner here. Highly recommended!