The Pixma iP4300 is fast, its print quality is good, and it has some nice features. Though it does suffer from a few design shortcomings, we recommend it highly.
The Pixma iP4300 set records in all of our speed tests, blasting through ten pages of text at a rate of 11.9 pages per minute. Graphics and photos also printed at a fast pace.
Its print quality showed the advantages of its five-ink design, which uses cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and pigment-black cartridges. The last of these inks helped produce black and mostly precise text output. Photos looked bright and natural on glossy paper, but on plain paper the same images looked a bit grainy and had some banding. Grayscale photos appeared a little rough, and diagonal or curved lines seemed slightly jagged.
The Pixma iP4300 has automatic duplexing (allowing for two-sided printing)--a great bonus for a photo printer at this price. It comes with two 150-sheet input trays, one vertical and one flat-mounted underneath. To designate which tray to use, you press a slim button on the front control panel; next to it, a lighted diagram confirms your choice. The supplied output tray can hold 75 pages.
This printer combines useful features and solid performance, but the design seems intended for sharp-eyed people only. Controls are labeled with small, unintuitive icons that do not clearly indicate their functions. Markings for the PictBridge port and the flat-mounted input tray are in almost the same color as the surrounding plastic, which makes them hard to read.
Though printed and HTML-based documentation for this printer is generally good, the Easy Setup Instructions poster doesn't always make things easy. It assumes that you know what and where all the parts are (for a detailed explanation, you must consult the HTML-based guide). An illustration of how to adjust the paper size in the tray mounted beneath the printer fails to explain how all the sliders work--and they're tricky.
Canon throws in some useful bundled software. Easy-PhotoPrint and PhotoRecord let you edit, organize, and print digital photos. Easy-WebPrint helps you format and print Web content so it doesn't run off the page.
The Pixma iP4300 has it all: speed, impressive output quality, and a good price.