The Canon Pixma iP4200 is by far the best inkjet printer I have ever used, one machine has served me extremely well for close to five years, and I have also bought a few second hand as well.
About the Canon iP4200
The Pixma iP4200 is a A4 colour inkjet printer that was marketed as a photo printer with a five tank ink system (it does not have a scanner) and sold at a price point of R900 – R1000 in South Africa (about $90 – $100) which placed it in the mid-range price point of consumer printers locally.
Why I purchased it
A friend of mine owned a internet café and used to use his iP4200 to print low volume business cards for customers and he recommended it as a good printer.
I had first bought me an iP4200 to print screen-printing positives and then used it to print business cards and it has served me well: to the tune of thousands of business cards and hundreds of positives for my first machine. The printer is a workhorse, a bit more expensive than an entry level 3-in-1, but as reliable as Jacques Kallis. A quality product that churns out quality prints.
When I started out my business (with virtually nothing), the iP4200 was one of the first pieces of equipment I had purchased, I had previously purchased an Epson Stylus CX3500 3-in-1, but that was later only used as a scanner after the ink ran out as it was not economical ink wise (one online commenter called it an “ink scam”). I had purchased the ip4200 to make screen-printing positives as I was making bumper stickers for South Africans against Drunk Driving at the time.
What I printed with the Canon Pixma iP4200
The guy that helped me with the second batch of bumper stickers I had to do suggested that I could share office space with his company for free – in exchange for doing his artwork and positives. I agreed and did most of the spot colour positives using this printer. It worked great, churning out quality opaque positives using OHP transparencies.
While I was sharing space there I started offering business card printing as a service. As I was selling to small businesses I would often get orders of 100 cards, which I would print onto business card stock using this printer, while I would outsource larger quantities to litho or digital printers. The print quality was good on the textured linen, but sometimes bled with certain colours on the fluffier linen. It’s not economical to print 100 business cards (which fit on 10 A4 sheets) on a lithographic printer.
Printing onto other media
The iP4200 also delivered quality prints when printing onto photo paper and t-shirt transfer paper.
Cost of ink
Like most inkjet printers the ink for the Canon was a bit expensive, but not as uneconomical as the cheaper printers to operate. However various methods worked to reducing this cost:
Refilling the printer
The original cartridges on the iP4200 was able to be refilled numerous times, with the resulting print being just as good with genuine ink – even when printing positives on OHP transparencies.
Generic / Compatible cartridges
I have also used generic cartridges from third party manufactures on this machine without a problem, but make sure you get good quality, as numerous manufactures make compatible cartridges – some are better than others.
I had also bought me a bulk ink system and a cartridge chip resetter for this machine.
An interesting thing to note: It took me quite a while to stop buying genuine cartridges; I would usually stop using genuine cartridges once a machine was out of warranty, but continued to buy genuine ink even after that as I was afraid I would not get the same quality – a concern that turned out to be unfounded. Another thing that may have also stopped me from refilling earlier was that the margins were pretty good. A blank OHP transparency that cost R5 (about $0.50) would sell for R50 (about $5) printed, blank business card stock would have similar margins when printed. So you can see the machine making a profit.
The Canon Pixma iP4200 was an exceptional printer with exceptional quality and has paid its purchase price back over and over again. I had recently purchased a Canon Pixma iP7240 which was the latest model in the same photo range of the iP4200 and I can tell you this: they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.