Reviews You Can Rely On

Canon PIXMA TR4520 Review

An easy to use mid-size printer at a good price
Canon PIXMA TR4520
Credit: Jason Peters
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $100 List | $99.00 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

 
Canon PIXMA TR4520
This Product
Canon PIXMA TR4520
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $100 List
$99.00 at Amazon
$350 List
$349.99 at Amazon
$130 List
$129.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$99.00 at Amazon
$100 List
$67.20 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizesConsistent color, easy set-up, broad format optionsUser-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playfulConvenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivityRelatively good image quality, easy to set up, useful app
Cons Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturationMicrobanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areasLimited print sizes, limited tray capacityRelatively low resolution, single print dimensionWasteful paper refills, limited dynamic range, single size format
Bottom Line An easy to use mid-size printer at a good priceThis low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end resultsThis portable printer kicks out quality 4" x 6" prints anytime, anywhereThis portable printer captures the fun of the old Polaroid cameras but with a fresh twistThis easy to use, portable printer has relatively few drawbacks and is a lot of fun
Rating Categories Canon PIXMA TR4520 Expression Photo HD... Canon SELPHY CP1300 Canon IVY Kodak Mini 2 HD
Color (35%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
3.0
Black And White (35%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
4.0
Print Capabilities (15%)
5.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
3.0
Operating Cost (10%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Set Up (5%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Canon PIXMA TR4520 Expression Photo HD... Canon SELPHY CP1300 Canon IVY Kodak Mini 2 HD
Resolutioin (dots per inch) 4800 x 1200 5760 x 1440 300 x 300 314 x 400 Unspecified
Max photo deminsions (inches) 8" x 10" 13" x 44" 4" x 6" 2" x 3" 2.1" x 3.4"
Cost per print (4" x 6" or mini print) $0.58 $0.45 $0.43 $0.50 $0.68
Machine deminsions (HxWxD inches) 7.5" x 17.2" x 11.7" 6.3" x 18.7" x 14.5" 2.5" x 7.1" x 5.4" 0.7" x 3.2" x 4.7" 1" x 3" x 5.2"
Printing technology Inkjet (Theromal DOD) Inkjet (Piezo DOD) Inkjet (Dye- sublimation) In paper, thermal-activated dye Dye sublimation thermal transfer
Print time per 4" x 6" (or mini print) 128 seconds 34 seconds 51 seconds 40 seconds 61 seconds
Color palette (ink cartridges) Black plus color cartridge Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Gray, Red N/A N/A N/A
LCD screen No Yes Yes No No
Touch Screen No No No No No
Battery No No Yes (sold separately) Yes Yes
Memory cards supported N/A N/A SD, SDHC, SDXC, miniSD, miniSDHC, microSD microSDHC and microSDXC N/A N/A
Ink type Pigment (black) and dye-based (color) Dye-based Dye-based N/A N/A
Roller paper No No No No No
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 2.4 GHz)
iPad, iPhone and Android tablets, Alexa and smartphones; Ethernet networking, andard Connectivity:
Hi-Speed USB, USB Host, Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, Wi-Fi Direct 5, Ethernet 10/100
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN, 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g)
Memory Card Slot
PictBridge (USB) & Wireless PictBridge (Wireless LAN)
Hi-Speed USB (Cable not included)
USB Flash Memory
Blutooth NFC, USB Port, Wi-Fi Direct
Operating system requirements Windows:20 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Mac:21
Mac OS X v10.10.5 - macOS v10.13 (High Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:22 iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Fire OS (Amazon Fire) devices
Windows 10 8/8.1/Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows Vista (32-bit , 64-bit)
Mac OS X 10.6.8 — macOS 10.12.x6
Windows:12 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1
Mac:13 Mac OS X v10.10.x - macOS v10.12 (Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:14 iOS, Androidâ„¢, Windows 10 Mobile, Amazon Fire devices15
Android, iOS Android, iOS
Scanner Yes (bed and feed) No No No No

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...
The PIXMA produces better than store-bought color images in most formats.
Credit: Laura Casner

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

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.
Credit: Laura Casner

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

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

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