Canon PIXMA TR4520 Review
Pros: Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes
Cons: Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation
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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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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