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Canon PIXMA TR4520 Review

An easy to use mid-size printer at a good price
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $100 List | $97 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes
Cons:  Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation
Manufacturer:   Canon
By Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Color - 35% 6
  • Black and White - 35% 6
  • Print Capabilities - 15% 5
  • Operating Cost - 10% 5
  • Set-Up - 5% 6

Our Verdict

This competitively priced, mid-size printer is a good choice for those that would like to print their own photos but don't have a highly critical eye for quality. This model does have some image fidelity issues where colors are sometimes off or over-saturated. We observed microbanding in the larger prints as well. That said, this machine is easy to use, produces decent quality pics and won't cost you an arm and a leg. Plus, it has a minimal footprint and doubles as an office printer/ scanner.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

What sets this machine apart from the other mid-size models is its price point, the quality of its prints and its ease of use. This model will dish out decent looking photos in the common formats and paper types. Additionally, it will scan, copy, fax, and print text documents. The machine is compact, too. So you won't have to devote a significant portion of the desk to it as is the case with the full-size printers. Oh yeah, did we mention that it's really affordable? Well, it is. What's not to like?

Performance Comparison


The PIXMA produces better than store-bought color images in most formats.
The PIXMA produces better than store-bought color images in most formats.

Color


If you're looking to produce some classic 4" x 6" prints of the family's last vacation, then the colors rendered from the Canon PIXMA TR4520 will likely suit you just fine. Yes, it's true that this machine occasionally has some off skin tones, and it tends to over-saturate blues. There were also some microbanding issues that became increasingly apparent as the print format increased. However, that's the kind of stuff that tends to jump out when one is making a comparative analysis, and not when you're taking a walk down memory lane.


What's important to keep in mind with this machine is that it is easy to use and it gets the job done reasonably well. The resolution is quite respectable and it stays consistent up to the 8" x 10" format. Having looked at a lot of pictures in the course of this review — including those from chain store developers — we can say definitively that the color prints coming out of this machine will not dissatisfy the average consumer.

The sharpness of the black and whites from this machine outweigh the shortcomings in streaking and banding.
The sharpness of the black and whites from this machine outweigh the shortcomings in streaking and banding.

Black and White


The black and white images produced on the PIXMA TR4520 were of a slightly better quality than the color images, but not by much. We still had some microbanding that was more evident in the grayscale and became more pronounced as the print size increased. However, there was a noticeable lack of streaking in the dark areas of the images that we observed with some of the higher-end printers. Additionally, the dynamic range (i.e. the breadth of tones from white to black) was unexpectedly broad, lending definition to the images.


Make no mistake, this machine is never going to satisfy a professional photographer. That said, we poured over hundreds of black and whites in the course of this review focusing on resolution as well as overall impression. We can say unequivocally that the TR4620's black and whites were better than average.

As the format size increased we observed more streaking issues.
As the format size increased we observed more streaking issues.

Print Capabilities


For a mid-sized printer, the TR4520 has a pretty good range of capabilities. It will produce 4" x 6", 5" x 7" and 8" x 10" prints on a variety of papers ranging from super glossy to matte. It will do greeting cards, t-shirt transfers, and envelopes as well. While not endowed with a vast ink palette, the tri-color and black ink cartridges do a pretty good job considering the limitations a narrow color scheme can create.


On the downside, the Canon has a long print time when compared to other printers in the review. At 128 seconds per 4" x 6" color print, this output is more than double the average for the class. Making the situation worse, the paper tray can only accommodate 20 sheets of 4" x 6" photo paper. As such, you may have to babysit the printer when tackling bigger printing runs.

While the up-front cost is low  you'll pay for it in time in cost per print.
While the up-front cost is low, you'll pay for it in time in cost per print.

Operating Costs


The operating cost is an evaluation of the long term cost to run the printer. To make this figure easy to grasp, we have refined it to the cost to print a single 4" x 6" color picture. Happily, the Canon is right around average for the class at $0.58.


We come to the 58 cent number by calculating the amount of ink needed to cover one square inch of paper and multiplying that times 24 (the number of square inches in a 4" x 6" sheet of photo paper). We then took that number and added it to the cost of a single sheet of photo paper. We found this estimate to be conservative but supported by similar research from production photo labs.

The use of an app as opposed to a computer driver makes for one of the easier set-ups among the desktop machines.
The use of an app as opposed to a computer driver makes for one of the easier set-ups among the desktop machines.

Set-up


As you might guess from the name, the set-up metric evaluates the difficulty (or ease) of going from a boxed up printer to one that is producing photos. The Canon uses an app, as opposed to a driver, to process the photos going from your device to the printer. Connection to the machine is made via WiFi. The whole process was streamlined and easy to execute. The first prints coming out of the machine were quite good as well.


Value


We think that this mid-size photo printer is packed with value. This machine's overall performance is well above average, and yet it is priced significantly below average for the class. We can't think of a better cost to performance ratio than what the Canon PIXMA TR4520 has on offer.

Conclusion


There are several pros and cons that should be considered before settling on the Canon PIXMA TR4520. The cost of the machine is at the top of the pros column. Conversely, the cons column is primarily a matter of perspective. This machine does not yield high-quality images. So, if that's what you're looking for, consider one of the full-size machines in this review. However, this machine does render decent photos on par with what you'd expect from a chain photo lab. It also covers a decent range of papers and formats that will satisfy the average person. With that in mind, we think that this machine is a great deal and will be more than proficient for getting images of friends and family off your phone and into some frames.

Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer