There are few rituals I despise more than changing inkjet printer cartridges. However, it’s pretty much unavoidable, especially with kids—and their endless school projects that continue to require printed copy in this “paperless” age. I went the color laser printer route for a while, but that simply doesn’t cut it for photos and illustrations, which makes up a good chunk of what they print. Inkjet it is, with messy, frequent, and expensive cartridge replacements. If you’re in the same boat, you might be interested in the Canon Pixma G4200, one of Canon’s “Mega Tank” series of all-in-one, wireless printers. The company sent me one to try out and it offers the advantages of inkjet, minus the cartridge nonsense.
In fact, it could save you some pretty big bucks on replacement cartridges.
What Does “Mega Tank” Actually Mean?
Canon uses a four-ink tank system on the Pixma G4200. You get four big squeeze bottles full of ink: black, magenta, cyan, and yellow. If that sounds messy and involved, it isn’t… The bottles correspond with four clearly labeled, see-through tanks on the printer. Pull out the rubber stopper to the corresponding tank, insert the bottle and squeeze until empty, then put the stopper back in. It’s possible you could spill a few drops if not careful, but I didn’t get any on myself. A few weeks later, I was swapping out some traditional inkjet cartridges and somehow ended up with a black thumb…
You can physically see how full each tank is without having to open the printer. That’s a handy touch. And you can replace each color individually, as needed.
Handier is the fact that that you may only have to do this once or twice in the lifetime of the printer. And you get full tanks in the box, no irritating “starter” cartridges that run dry after 20 pages…
What does “Mega Tank” Mean in terms of traditional ink cartridges? Canon uses its CL-246 replacement 3-color and PG-245 replacement black cartridges as the baseline and says the Pixma G4200 Mega Tank printer has a print yield equivalent to 30 cartridges.
Big Money Savings
Canon charges $22.99 for the color cartridge and $17.99 for the black cartridge. Let’s split the output evenly at half color and half black, calling it 15 of each cartridge. That adds up to nearly $615.00
The Pixma G4200 Mega Tank retails for $399.99, so you would be ahead of the game by a few hundred dollars and a lot of convenience. But at time of writing, Canon was selling it for $299.99, and even better, Amazon has it for $249.99.
A $250 printer that has $615 worth of ink included is a pretty sweet deal, especially if you are printing a lot. Now those are claimed numbers. And if I was trying to verify that claimed capacity, I would still be printing weeks from now. But I did dozens of high resolution, high quality, 8-1/2 x 11 photo prints, and to my naked eye, the tank levels didn’t move perceptively.
Also a Pretty Good Printer
Cheap ink—even free ink—isn’t much of a draw if the print results are bad. Fortunately, the Canon Pixma G4200 does a pretty good job.
Print resolution is 4800 x 1200 dpi. Text was crisp and photo prints were bright and showed minimal banding (none at all when I used photo paper). Print speeds are decent at 5 ppm in back and just under 9 ppm in color. I was pretty happy with the photo prints in terms of detail and color, while the text output quality rivaled laser. There’s a 100 sheet paper tray and the ability to take a wide range of paper sizes, including 4×6, letter, and legal size. There’s also a scanner that does double-duty as a photocopier. And fax. If anyone still uses fax…
Connectivity options are USB and Wi-Fi. I used Wi-Fi, and it was solid. No driver installs needed (at least for my Macs, and Windows is supported as well); just pick it as a new printer and go. Printing from my iPhone was easy using iOS (AirPrint), but the Canon app gives additional options such as selecting paper type.
The only real nitpick I had with it was a lack of support for two-sided printing. Not a big deal for me, but paper savers may want to think about that.
Yeah, It’s a Good Deal
The Pixma G4200 Mega Tank makes for a pretty solid family printer choice, especially if you snag one at that under $250 price from Amazon. High-quality printing and the possibility of never having to change an ink cartridge again—or at worst, not for a year or two—makes it easy to like.