Hardware Review: A Combination That Beats All:
Canon's S800 Color Inkjet Printer and D1230U Scanner
As seen in the August 2001 issue of IT magazine

By J.A. Hitchcock

Finding a good printer/scanner combination is always hard. I love my Lexmark Z82, which is an all-in-one color printer/scanner/copier, but there are something I wish it did, namely scan 35mm negatives and slides as well as photos. Plus, the one thing I don't like about most color printers is that when you run out of cyan (blue), yellow or magenta (red), you have to replace the whole cartridge.

This is where Canon comes in. They've been pretty much on the ball when it comes to ease of use, great products and less waste for the customer. I still have a Canon color inkjet printer, the 4550, that prints up to tabloid size paper with four ink cartridges - one for each color and black. So when I ran out of blue, I replaced the blue cartridge, and so on. However, the output quality wasn't photographic (although clipart and graphics come out great), so I kept hoping Canon would come out with an updated version of that printer.

The S800 is almost there - not only does it print photographic quality, it has the "Canon ThinkTank System," six separate ink cartridges for magenta, cyan, yellow and black, PLUS two photographic ink cartridges - one for cyan and one for magenta (why there is no yellow, I'm not sure, but I think it's because blue and red are used more than yellow in output). That means all you replace is what you use up, saving money and not wasting a typical color cartridge that has the three colors in it.

A nice extra that comes with the S800 is the CompactFlash™ Card Reader, which allows you to send photos from your digital camera direct to the printer.

When I say the S800 is almost there, I mean it's paper size output. It only goes to legal size; I wish they'd made it to tabloid, then I could get rid of my 4550. Maybe next time around.

Setup was surprisingly simple, the software included is great for those who don't have graphics/photo editing software already installed, and printing was a breeze. I tested the printer with regular black and white text documents; color text documents; a brochure with color graphics; photos scanned in (both color and black and white); and photos sent directly to the printer from my Casio QV7000SX digital camera. I was extremely pleased with the results in every category, although for black and white text documents I still use my HP4P laser printer (I'm an old diehard when it comes to "crisp" black and white text printing). The photos printed quickly (in less than two minutes) and I did get up to 2400x1200 dpi on some of them when I selected the optimum printing options. Even so, the printer spit out those photos in about two minutes, so I can't complain - that's FAST! And with Canon's MicroFine Droplet Technology, the output is nicer than expected.

The only beef with photographic printing was the size - unless you use Canon 4x6 photo paper, you may find your prints won't come out as well using other paper. I tried the HP 4x6 photo paper and some generic glossy photo paper and both of them printed a 4x6 photo that was a little off on the top part of each photo, leave a blank white space at the bottom (NOTE: Canon Glossy Photo Paper Pro 4x6 costs $11.95 for 20 sheets, which is comparable to other brand-name photo papers).

The companion to the S800 (sold separately) is the CanoScan D1230U flatbed scanner. This does what my Lexmark Z82 doesn't do - scanning in negatives, slides and photos, and it does so very well, although it's a bit of work to do so. Scanning in photos is the same as with any other scanner - lay the photo on the glass, scan from your favorite graphics program or one of the programs that comes with the CanoScan D1230U, clean up the photo in the program and print or save. When it comes time to scan in negatives or slides, though, it becomes a process.

You need to remove the white protective sheet attached to the underside of the cover of the scanner, select which of the black plastic negative/slide adapters you want to use, place the negative or slide into the correct section, place the black adapter on the glass, close the cover, then click the "Film Scan" button on the top of the cover. I also have a HP Photosmart Scanner that just scans in negatives, slides and prints up to 4x6 and it's much easier to operate, but the fact that the CanoScan D1230U is also a regular scanner beats the PhotoSmart Scanner out as far as versatility, although I do wish the CanoScan D1230U weren't so complicated to use when it came to negatives/slides. But it's a minor complaint, believe me.

From there, it's easy - the scanning program takes you through scanning the negative or slide with ease. It always amazes me when scanners can do this - you get to watch as the scanner does a preview, converts the negative or slide to photo-quality, then select which you want (if it's a negative) and scan to the size you want.

Output quality of a scanned photo from negatives or slides is just as good (if not better) than scanned-in prints. The size of the CanoScan D1230U is a bit smaller than most scanners, so it does take up less room on your desktop. The color is a light gray, which is pleasing, but probably won't match the rest of your computer system, so if you're anal about matching components, this might not be to your liking.

As a set, the Canon S800 color inkjet printer and CanoScan D1230U definitely beat all. The combination allows you to do so many things for less than $600 total, that it's hard not to like them.

My Likes:
Separate inkjet cartridges for each color in the printer - a definite plus
Size of both the printer and scanner are smaller than others, so they fit well on just about any desktop
The programs accompanying both the printer and scanner are easy-to-use and comparable to more expensive programs
Output quality of both is superb
Pricing is very affordable, especially when you get such professional-quality output
Works with both PC and Mac computers - yeah!

My Dislikes:
I wish the printer took paper sizes up to tabloid
The scanner could be a bit easier to use when it comes to negative/slide scanning

s800.jpg - 2865 Bytes

d1230u.jpg - 2144 Bytes

J.A. Hitchcock, awriter@jahitchcock.com, is the author of seven books and a freelance writer, as well as president of W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse)

Return to the Compute Me Reviews main page.