With the exception of its grey cover, the Canon i80 looks identical to its predecessor, the immensely popular i70. On the inside, however, the portable i80 photo printer boasts myriad technical improvements, including enhanced photo quality, better print speed, and improved ink efficiency. Canon also offers an optional Bluetooth module and car adaptor.
One thing that does remain the same, however, is the hefty £150 price tag, which doesn't include the accessories. The associated costs alone will keep this portable inkjet printer out of the hands of all but the most dedicated digital-photo enthusiast. If, on the other hand, your job keeps you out of the office -- if you work as a sales representative, or an insurance adjuster for example -- the i80 is your best bet for printing high-quality photos no matter where in the world you are. It is expensive, yes, but it's worth every penny.
Weighing less than 1.8kg and measuring only 50 by 304 by 177mm the Canon i80 -- like the i70 before it -- is among the smallest and lightest inkjet printers we've tested. And yet, unlike the snapshot Canon CP-300, the i80 handles different sizes of paper with ease, including A4, Letter, Legal and envelopes. The printer's top cover quickly becomes the intake paper tray and can hold 30 sheets of plain paper or about 15 sheets of photo paper. Unfortunately, this printer is not designed to handle heavy print jobs; for instance, there's no output tray. Whenever we loaded more than a few sheets of plain paper, we experienced paper jams.
The USB 1.0 port on the right side of the i80 connects it to a PC or a Mac. (The USB cable, however, must be bought separately.) On the left-hand side of the printer, there's a USB 2.0 port for Bubble Jet Direct- or PictBridge-compatible digital cameras, such as the Canon PowerShot S50. There's also a proprietary connector strip along the back for use with an optional battery or cradle kit. The i80 can also be powered from your car's cigarette lighter -- again, with an optional adaptor.
Setting up the i80 is a very simple process, aided by a well-illustrated poster. The printer's design itself is so straightforward that you can get this printer up and running within minutes.
Despite its compact size, the i80 comes with some fantastic feature options. Unfortunately, most of them cost extra: the car adaptor, Bluetooth adaptor, battery kit, and cradle kit all cost extra. The good news is that the i80 shares the same i70 battery and cradle kits, allowing current owners of the i70 to upgrade for less expense.
The basic i80 printer comes with new features included. In addition to supporting the Bubble Jet Direct format, which allows you to print images without a PC or a Mac, the i80 includes PictBridge photo technology, once available only in Canon's high-end inkjet printers. The i80 also uses a smaller print head, producing droplets as small as 2 picoliters. That means better image quality, faster print speeds, and more efficient ink usage than the i70. The i80 also offers resolutions up to 4,800x1,200 colour dots per inch, and it supports a variety of photo papers, including borderless.
Like the i70, the i80 includes user-friendly software. ZoomBrowser Ex and PhotoRecord manage and archive your photos. Easy-WebPrint and Easy-PhotoPrint simplify and enhance the process of printing either photos or Web pages. There's also a very interesting application called PhotoStitch that creates panoramic photos from individual shots.
The i80 performs as well as the i70 in terms of speed, and surpasses it in terms of quality. In our tests, the i80 pumped out 5.6 pages per minute (ppm) of text on regular paper, compared with 7.5ppm for the i70 and a very sluggish 1.5ppm for the HP DeskJet 450cbi. On a 266x179mm test photo, the i80 took a mere 2.8 minutes per page (mpp), tying the i70 for speed, and finishing well ahead of the 450cbi's 4.5mpp.
The i80's overall print quality is impressive, to say the least. On inkjet paper, both text and graphics look sharp and crisp, and graphics in particular have excellent gradients, as well as perfect colour matching throughout. The only glitch in our tests was that the text and the graphics were light, though this can be fixed by adjusting the print driver. But the Canon i80 impressed us the most with its excellent photo quality. The printouts look as crisp as those from the highest-quality printers we've seen, such as the Canon i960's or the Epson R300M's.
Service and support
Canon's Web site features updated drivers, user guides, and FAQs. There's also a well-organised knowledge base available for troubleshooting.
Additional editing by Tom Espiner