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New Canon and HP inkjet printers: new technologies
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on September 4, 2006

Besides the original tactile monitor on the HP Photosmart D7360 (a topic of a future article), the main and almost only improvements for Canon and HP this year were for 4" x 6" printers. The stars of today´s article are the new Canon Pixma mini260 (169 euros) and the HP Photosmart A516 (149 euros). Many things are improved starting with the price, speed, and cost per photo.

Some of the marketing arguments proved to be very bold, even too bold. HP writes in big letters on the packaging that pictures are printed in 53 seconds and are water resistant. We tested these two particularities and filmed the result (the comments are in French but you won´t have a hard time understanding what happens). The water resistance video is in the Photosmart A516 section, the one for time in printing a photo is in the page entitled "Speed and photo costs". Click on the reading control in the center of the image to start the sequence.
New product lines are on their way
Printer manufacturers release less products than manufacturers of graphic cards, digital camera, monitors… They only renew product lines once a year usually in September. Now more and more this is delayed. We used to know everything about them in July, but now only Canon and HP have unveiled their product early in August and Lexmark has just done it (08/21/06). Epson will come later with announcements in September, which doesn´t mean that they will be available at this date.

The evolution of the market continues: A4 mono function printers continue to lose market shares to multifunction and mini models devoted to small formats, for example 4" x 6". HP and Canon´s multifunctions remain almost unchanged and there are no major modifications. Separate cartridges are only meant for high end multifunctions for HP, while Canon slightly redesigned some products (bezel color) and really added only one printer, the MP510, without introducing any new technology. It has separate cartridges.
Lexmark comes back to more classical designs for its economical line. They don’t have color monitors on the first products unveiled and are all priced under 150€. This absence complicates the printing of photos in autonomous mode. They have, however, borrowed Brother´s idea of introducing a document loader in an affordable product, the X5470 and will be sold next month for 129€.
The focus is on 4" x 6"s
There are many modifications for 4" x 6" printers, which are apparently the new favourites for manufacturers. In the list of improvements two were of importance to us: reducing the staggering cost of these small peripherals and considerably improving the quality of ink jet photos. Lexmark doesn´t have a substitute for the small P450 yet. But the good news is that Canon and HP have made real progress in the above areas.

They both changed cartridges, so it opened the way to all types of modifications such as print rates, sharpness, color quality. Oh well, if there are more and more models in stores. We could play the devil’s advocate and wonder if behind all of this manufacturers aren’t looking for a way to inundate stores with models to get rid of compatible cartridges.

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