Sunday, July 08, 2007

You Say Pixma, I say Pixus

I've had an Epson Stylus Color 740i in translucent orange for over 7 years now. I bought it to replace an absolutely gigantic early color inkjet Epson printer. I was even dumb enough to pay an extra $10 for the orange cover (it came with a blue one) so it would match the iMac we had at that time. For at least 4 of those years, it has been a royal pain in the ass in terms of print quality. Over the last several months, it had been printing magenta instead of black on occasion but I still wouldn't give up on it. Four days ago, it finally gave up on me.

Usually, my problem with it was that it wouldn't print well or would smudge ink all over the page as it printed. The other day, it went on a hunger strike and refused to feed any more paper into itself. No matter what I did, it wouldn't suck down one more sheet so I reluctantly started researching new printers.

My main criteria in making my choice was that it be a model I could get from Amazon Japan for less than ¥15,000 ($121) with reasonably-priced (if not cheap) ink cartridge replacements available via mail order of some fashion, be well-reviewed and that the model be mirrored by a similar English language model so I could download a manual and software in English. That was actually a pretty tall order, particularly the latter.

After considerable research, I chose a Canon Pixus. For reasons I'm not sure of, the Pixus series is called Pixma in the U.S. At least some of the models (if not all) are exactly the same machines in each country. I downloaded the software and manuals and checked out on-line reviews.

Everything negative that the reviews mentioned was true. The printer is relatively big and boxy and is somewhat cheap in its feel. It also does not come with a USB cable to connect it to your computer. One bad point which ended up being less of an issue for me was the cost of the ink. For some reason, the cartridges are $7 each in Japan when you buy a 4-pack and $11 each in the U.S. On the down side though, the cartridges come with computer chips and can't be refilled so that's out for me now as a way of saving money. One final negative for U.S. models which isn't an issue for Japanese or European ones is a CD printing tray isn't included. I have no idea why the U.S. models don't come with these simple and clearly inexpensive bits of plastic but I got mine.

I set it up and did a test printing and it's shockingly noisy at times. It makes somewhat loud clunky noises as the head lines itself up and it can be a little worrying when you're new to using the machine. You get the feeling it's in there chewing up its parts and you've made a horrible mistake in your set up but it seems fine.

I haven't printed much with it yet but the test print I did looked good. The main benefit for me is that paper can be fed in through a cassette at the bottom rather than a clunky sheet feeder in the back. It does have a feeder in back as well so you can use it alone or you can put two different types and sizes of paper in at the same time and choose which orifice to feed the paper from. For me, it works best this way because I have to use the printer on a low shelf under a desk and it's hard to get to the back to put in paper. This way, it all goes in and out the front.

The other main benefit for me is that the printer's various exposed areas all snap shut into a nice, tidy box. Given that my place is as dusty as a dirt road on a hot summer day, this should help keep crud out of the moving parts for the most part. I'm hoping it ends up serving me as well, or hopefully better, than my dearly departed Stylus Color 740i.


Anonymous said...

just to be sure, Are the cartridges for the Pixus models exactly the same as for the Pixma model? Or there is some block, which does not allow to buy the cheaper cartridges is Japan? I have seen, that the ink cartridges in Europe also have different Order number, so I want to know, if there is not some kind of incompatibility issue.

Thanks for an answer


Shari said...

Unfortunately, I can't guarantee a correct answer. The order numbers are different (as are the names of the printers). The cartridges look absolutely identical and I'd be shocked if they weren't the same.

While it is possible that the computer chips are ever so slightly different, I doubt that is the case. I can't see them going to the trouble just to avoid cross-buying, especially since postage costs would tend to negate the value of ordering from another country.

Sorry that I can't give a better answer!

Anonymous said...

I have the Pixma MP500 and bought the ink for the Pixus MP500. They look exactly the same but the Pixma did not recognize the Pixus inks. Since the chips record the ink level I couldn't just swap out the chips to fool the printer.

Anonymous said...

I have the Pixma MP500 and bought the ink for the Pixus MP500. They look exactly the same but the Pixma did not recognize the Pixus inks. Since the chips record the ink level I couldn't just swap out the chips to fool the printer.

Anonymous said...

i got burned on this too, I have a cheap pixma printer, but bought some japanese cartridges in japan, only to find out they won't work, due to the chip I guess.