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Windows 7: Canon Pixma iX6820 wide format printer- my thoughts

26 Jun 2017   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Canon Pixma iX6820 wide format printer- my thoughts

I like to print archive copies of artwork to put in portfolios so I can have hard copies of them, unfortunately I prefer them on 11x17 cardstock and most of your basic cheap home printers only handle 8.5x11, and the somewhat pricier ones only go to 8.5x14. I can go through a local print shop at $1 per sheet, but this is a hassle for various reasons- I have to print them in large batches to make it worth the trouble, sometimes(well, way too much) their printer goes down probably because it's old and has been fixed too many times, and if they have a lot of business then there will be a delay in running prints. Prints have also sometimes come out bad and I have to redo them, which means driving back there. There are a few other reasons as well which complicate and limit things using this method.

I decided to buy a wide format printer. Downside is, these things cost big bucks, many in the $300 and up range. The absolute cheapest is the Pixma iX6820 which is a printer only model- no scanner/copier, fax or other features. I got it for $119 via Amazon, though they've upped their price to $140 now. I was absolutely not getting a $300 machine, and this one had strong favorable overall reviews.

Let me get the major cons out of the way-

* It is BIG. It's larger than a typical PC tower and weighs about as much. You will either need a lot of space to set it up permanently, or closet space to store when it's not in use.

* No touch screen like many of Canon's printers, or even a screen at all. It only has a power button, test/paper feed button, and a wi-fi connect button. Settings have to be handled through the driver/setup menu or whatever program you print through.

* Canon ink cartridges are, as expected, expensive. Expect to pay $50-$60 for a set(roughly half the cost of the printer itself). Non-OEM inks, refill carts and CIS do exist, but Canon designed this to be a bit unfriendly to CIS installation, the lid has to remain opened. It uses 5 inks- CMYK dyes in 4 separate carts, and a larger pigment black. I went with Arthur Imaging based on reviews, a set of 4 refills for $30, ordered with the printer.

My experience this it-

I got the 3 year warranty with the order, in case something happened. I also figured if it didn't live up to expectations I could return it or put it on craigslist, so I felt even if there was a small gamble involved I could recoup my costs.

The CD has the drivers and Canon programs but I think only up to W7- you might have to go to Canon's site for 8 and 10. Not an issue, installation wasn't much of a hassle, though for some unknown reason the printer did not like being connected by USB using an extension cable- I had to disconnect and plug the USB cable directly into the PC. I don't know if the connector was loose or dirty, or if the thing just didn't like this setup. I use these cables so I don't have to go to the back of the tower constantly, so much for the lesser hassle.

It does connect via Ethernet or wi-fi through your home network. I haven't tested either and USB seems fast enough. Startup/cleaning can take a bit if you haven't used it for a day or so but gets faster when it's been used. All printing was done on high quality setting, which will take longer per sheet, roughly 30 seconds for an 11x17 drawing with no background.

This printer can handle 13x19 maximum, I used 11x17 110lb cardstock. Paper feed is done by a rear slot, there is no tray. A sliding paper feed guide in the slot helps center the paper.

I had to do a lot of test printing to get results I liked. I would suggest not using Adobe Reader for printing, you can't select a print profile and whatever it defaults to seemed to put a bit too much red into the mix when set to plain paper, causing skin tones to look funny and a bit off. Set to photo paper deduced that but made prints too dark. Opening the PDF in Illustrator netted better results, the best using the Adobe RGB print profile set to plain paper. Canon's own profiles lack anything for plain paper, and their photo matte profile made things too blue. I kept to default relative colorimetric, other settings produced worse results.

Ink consumption wasn't too bad, I managed about 70 prints using the basic Canon starter carts before I had to change even one cart. I've had to swap 4 so far after doing well over 100 prints. The non-OEM inks I bought are the same visual quality as Canon's inks. Even when the low ink icon comes up they still last for about 20 prints before I have to change them. It seemed to use yellow the fastest, followed by magenta and cyan closely after, then pigment black. I have yet to change dye black.

I tested photo printing, using some lingering cat photos I took for a neighbor years ago. Cropping the subjects to 10.5 x 16.5 and printing in Photoshop with the same settings produced some very good large photos even on plain paper. I gave them to the cats' former owner(both animals have since passed of old age) and they were super happy with them. UNFORTUNATELY this eats up ink fast. These two photos alone used up nearly half a yellow ink cartridge. In this case, $1 per photo at the local print shop is probably a better option for large format photos.

Ink carts pop in and out easily with an LED to indicate it's in properly. The printhead also comes out for cleaning if necessary.

While this is not print shop quality, it's actually rather close. I was generally happy with prints once I found the best settings. But for $120 compared to what a shop printer would cost, or the trouble in going to a shop, I think the results are more than acceptable for what I need. It's also a less hassle ink option than my older Canon MG2520 had, which I barely even used and never bothered to refill.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2017   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Further comments, having used it for some time-

I like the paper guide, works well and the lid is nice and sturdy.

The front panel latches shut with magnets instead of clips. The paper tray is a bit iffy to slide out evenly, seems the nubs used for a track aren't really all that great and it wants to point out at a slight ankle sometimes, one of the few real design flaws.

Yellow is still used the fastest, with dye black being the slowest, having only just changed that one.

Arthur Imaging inks are very close to Canon quality, I can't see any difference. I just don't care for how they pack in 12 of the 250 black carts against 4 each of the others. Maybe if you print a lot of documents/text it will use those faster but I have a huge excess of the things. They really should evenly pack these, I'd prefer 6 full sets opposed to 4 with extras. Other brands are cheaper buy get worse reviews in general or have no reviews.

The lid underside lists a PGI-255 cartridge I hadn't seen mentioned elsewhere, that's an XXL capacity pigment black.

I wish Amazon could make up their minds on price, it seems it's fluctuating between $105 and $150. If you see it low it's definitely worth it, at $150 I'd only go if you really need the large format.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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