Although mobile printers often sacrifice quality for convenience, Canon's iP line of photo inkjet printers has always delivered impressive photos. Now, the Canon Pixma iP100 is the first mobile photo printer with 9,600-dpi resolution. At $249, this unit is more expensive than most all-in-ones, but it packs superb quality and fast speeds into a sleek, portable shell.
At 4.4 pounds, the iP100 is heavier than most road warrior accessories, but its compact 12.7 x 7.2 x 2.4-inch body will fit nicely in your carry-on, front seat, or on your desk. Although it's 6.4 ounces heavier than its predecessor, theiP90, it's still easy to carry in one hand. With its black accents and rounded edges, the matte silver chassis blends in anywhere, and we love how neatly the paper tray and front lid fold up for easy carrying. Unfortunately, there are no memory card slots and no tray to catch outgoing paper.
Of course, a printer this small also accommodates less ink than a larger printer. It runs on a black ($11.99) and tricolor cartridge ($16.99), with a rated cost per print of 26 cents for 4 x 6-inch color photos, and three cents for 8 x 10 black-and-white documents. When it comes to powering the printer, you have several options. The only included option is using the bundled A/C adapter. You can also purchase a car adapter ($89) and battery ($99), which lasts about 3 hours on a single charge.
Document Quality and Speed
The paper tray can accommodate 2 x 3, 4 x 6, 4 x 8, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10-inch paper. On the whole, we were very pleased with the print quality. The quality of our documents, which included Word and PowerPoint files interspersed with pictures, was good, but not stellar. Occasionally, we noticed smudgy print quality: A stray letter here and there looked thicker than the others. Ditto for fine print: The five-point font was legible but occasionally uneven.
When it came to printing documents, we were impressed with the iP100's speed. It printed a one-page Word document in 13 seconds and a 10-page PowerPoint presentation in 4:23 (down from 9:31 with the iP90). It printed an eight-page Word document in 1:05 when set to standard resolution, and 56 seconds when we switched to fast resolution. While the pages printed in the latter mode were fainter, they were still easy to read. The downside to the iP100's fast speed is that it's noisier than many printers designed for desktop and office use.
Stunning Photo Quality
While the iP100 handles documents well, it shines with photos. Our 10-megapixel prints showed vibrant color and looked sharp even on 8 x 10-inch paper. In Macro mode, we could make out fine details of a flower, including the wrinkles in the petals. Although our photos felt a bit sticky right away, they didn't smudge, and the photo paper felt thick and sturdy under the weight of all that ink.
The iP100 prints photos even faster than the iP90. It printed a 10-megapixel photo on 4 x 6-inch paper in 49 seconds and on 8 x 10-inch paper in 2:44 (that's down from 1:25 for a 4 x 6-inch print and 2:50 for an 8 x 10-inch print on the iP90).
In addition to a standard PictBridge port for plugging in your camera, camcorder, or camera phone, it has IrDa (infrared), and optional Bluetooth 2.0. With the Bluetooth dongle ($49.99), you can wirelessly print photos from your camera phone.
The only reason we hesitate to recommend the iP100 is its price: At $249, the Canon Pixma iP100 is expensive. Some all-in-ones, including Canon's Editors' Choice-winning Pixma MP Series, offer comparable quality and speed for less money. But if mobility is important, it's worth the splurge: It delivers fast speeds and sleek portability without skimping on quality.