Printers for the home, home office and small office have gone through some revolutionary developments over the years that have made them indispensable—no matter what anyone says about the ‘paperless’ future. I just spent some time trying out Canon’s Pixma MegaTank G4200 and G3200, multi-function wireless printers that adds another big upgrade to the experience: low cost operation and an end to constantly cycling through print cartridges.
Setting Up the Pixma G4200 is Easy, but Different
Chances are you pretty much know the drill for setting up an inkjet printer. Get the printer out of the box, remove the packing tape that keeps all the moving parts secure during transit, pop it open to install the cartridges and plug it in.
Canon’s Pixma G4200 follows that same basic formula, up to a point. At 5.8 kg, it’s not too difficult to lift out of the box. Once out of its styrofoam packaging, there are a half dozen orange pieces of tape to remove. Then there are what appear to be two ink cartridges, one black and one colour. But despite appearances, these are not ink cartridges, they are actually print heads. They install easily (Canon includes documentation and even links to videos). And then there are four bottles of ink: black, yellow, cyan and magenta.
That’s because the Pixma G4200 is part of Canon’s MegaTank series of printers, that also includes the G3200. The idea behind MegaTank is to provide a huge supply of ink upfront. No ‘starter’ cartridges, and no cartridges at all. Instead, you fill up integrated ink tanks using those bottles. Each bottle will completely fill a tank, so you don’t have any extra to store.
The process is pretty straightforward. Match the bottle to the appropriate tank. Remove the rubber stopper from the top of the tank, twist the top of the bottle, insert the nozzle into the tank (being careful not to spill any ink in the process) and squeeze until the bottle is empty.
This takes a few minutes longer than installing print cartridges usually does and it’s a good idea to have some paper towel handy, just in case. But there’s a big payoff. more on that shortly.
The rest of the setup involves adding paper to the feeder and connecting the printer. Paper is pretty easy. Choose the size, insert it in the feeder (up to 100 sheets of letter-size) and adjust the guides so the paper is being held firmly. The printer will take most popular paper sizes, including 4×6 and 5×7 photo prints.
Connectivity can be as easy as connecting to your computer by USB cable. However, with just a little extra effort, you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network, which opens a big range of wireless printing options. The display on the Pixma G4200 is limited, so Wi-Fi setup relies on your smartphone (iOS or Android). Download the Pixma app, and it just takes a moment—basically, you need to know your Wi-Fi network name and password. Once on Wi-Fi, you can print from pretty much any connected device.
I was able to choose the Pixma G4200 from my iPhone (natively or through the Pixma app for additional options), and it showed up as a network printer on my Mac—no driver installation required.
If you are going to be using fax functionality, you’ll also need to connect to telephone jack using the included cable.
Canon Pixma G4200 Key Specs
For full specifications, see the Canon Pixma G4200 product page
MegaTank = Lower Operating Cost, No Constant Swapping of Cartridges
Earlier I mentioned a big payoff for having to hand-fill those ink tanks. That comes in the form of eliminating the most hated part of owning an inkjet printer: constantly having to replace ink cartridges. It’s time consuming, expensive and always seems to happen at the worst possible time.
Canon says its MegaTank printers can print 6,000 pages of black text, or 7,000 colour pages. Thats the equivalent of 30 cartridge refills. And that’s out of the box, eliminating another big printer complaint (those starter cartridges many manufacturers now include). As a result, forget about low ink anxiety and welcome a lower operating cost.
And as an added bonus, those clear tanks make it easy to see exactly how much ink you have remaining. There’s something satisfying about being able to see those levels with your own eyes instead of having to rely on software to warn you that a cartridge is running low.
Obviously, I wasn’t able to verify Canon’s claims. I could have been sitting here watching it print for weeks to do that. However, I can say that after dozens of pages, including many letter-sized high resolution photos, the ink levels on the printer’s tanks had barely moved.
High Quality Results
A printer won’t do you much good if it doesn’t print well, even if it’s saving you a fortune in consumables. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Canon Pixma G4200.
Text was impressibly crisp, with no bleed. It looked even sharper than laser quality. Colour prints were excellent. Using photo paper (none was supplied in the box, but I have my own stash), print lab-quality results took about one minute for a letter-sized print, half that for a 5×7. They looked great, with detail and no visible banding. I did find boosting the brightness prior to printing helped colour accuracy—it can be slightly dark compared to what you see onscreen otherwise—but I find that’s true of most inkjet printers.
Scan and copier functionality worked well. Results didn’t seem to lose much in the way of detail, and printed cleanly. I did not try out the fax …
Pixma G3200 MegaTank is an Option as Well
There are other printers in the MegaTank series. Canon also sent along the G3200 MegaTank wireless multifunction printer. Same massive ink capacity, same print quality and the ability to make copies and scan documents. This one lacks an automatic document feeder and doesn’t have a fax line, but it’s slightly smaller and also less expensive than the G4200.
Ideal Printer for a Busy Home Office
The Canon Pixma G4200 MegaTank printer makes a pretty solid choice for a home office or small office. Paper savers may miss its lack of automatic two-sided printing and the display is pretty rudimentary. However, it does everything you need it to: printing, copying, scanning and faxing. Its print quality is excellent, and with that MegaTank design, cost of operation is much lower than traditional inkjet printers.
If you don’t need fax capability and you’re okay with manually feeding the scanner/copier, then I’d recommend the Pixma G3200 MegaTank instead. You get the same high print quality, the same low operating cost and the same wireless capability, in a printer that’s a little more compact and less expensive. In fact this one would make a great printer for the home, especially if you have school-age kids who are constantly printing assignments and photos.
If the Pixma G4200 doesn’t have the features you’re after, Best Buy carries a huge selection of wireless, multifunction and high capacity printers. It also stocks a full complement of ink and toner refills, but if you choose a Canon Pixma MegaTank series printer, you won’t be worrying about shopping for those for a long, long time …