Printer Reviews: Canon Pixma iP110

Introduction & Design

When we say “mobile” or “portable,” we don’t quite mean that in the smartphone sense. The Canon Pixma iP110 is small enough to pick up and carry with you, though not really compact enough to slide into a purse or briefcase without a second thought, like you might an Apple iPad or a really skinny ultraportable laptop. But its Wi-Fi connectivity and lack of wires (if you use this printer with Canon’s optional battery connected—more on that later) are highly convenient for use when you’re out and about—say, in a vehicle or on a work site without ready access to a power outlet. Printing off the battery might also impress at a client location, where you might not want to impose and ask to string a power adapter to an AC outlet.

Design 

Canon Pixma iP110 (1)

Canon Pixma iP110 (1)

>>> See more: Printers Review: Canon Pixma MG3220

Closed up, the Pixma iP110 is a small box about the size and shape of as a tissue paper dispenser. Given that it’s a full-size printer—capable of printing on up to legal-size (8.5x14-inch) paper and everything smaller—it’s remarkably compact.

It's a bit bigger when you put it in service, though. Readied for printing, the 4.3-pound Pixma iP110 measures 12.2 inches across, 9.1 inches from front to back, and 8.5 inches high. You’ll need to leave some additional room in front of it, too, for letter-size output to flow outward, as there’s no catch tray…

The printer's top-mounted, flip-up paper guide you see above is what makes the printer so tall when you use it. When closed up, on the other hand, the iP110 is quite low-slung, as you can see below: just 2.4 inches high, with a 12.2x6.1-inch footprint…

Because you’re shelling out the bucks for a mobile printer, presumably you want to use it in the same mobile fashion as a laptop, working off the power grid at times and free of any awkward cabling. If so, the device needs to operate independent from power sources and sometimes even local networks. To that end, this little Pixma supports basic Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as Wi-Fi Direct (or rather Canon’s equivalent, Access Mode). The latter lets you connect this printer with your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, without the need for both devices to connect first to a Wi-Fi network as a bridge between.

You can also connect the Pixma iP110 to a single computer via USB cable. Tethering the printer to a USB port not only allows you to print directly, but it’s also the main way to charge the optional battery, which is a detachable add-on...     

Features & Setup

Even if you don't opt to get the separate battery in this printer, it's a big part of its raison d'etre. It's also big, period.

Not only does the battery add considerably to the cost of the Pixma iP110, but also to the weight: 14.4 ounces, to be exact, close to a pound. It installs into a niche in the back of the printer, like so…      

In fact, apart from Canon's likely concern about this printer's relative pricing versus competitors, making the battery—seemingly, an otherwise integral part of the product—optional doesn't make overwhelming sense. In a sense, because the printer can run on the included power cable and AC adapter, the battery really is optional. (The thinking being that some folks might be willing to pay a premium for a tethered-but-carry-able printer.)

A deskbound printer like that is an all-in-one model, too, whereas all that the Pixma iP110 does is print. Considering its diminutive size and light weight, and given maximum resolutions of 600x600 dots per inch (dpi) for black-and-white pages and 9,600x2,400dpi for color pages, it does a great job most of the time. But if you don’t specifically need the mobile functionality, you’ll get tremendously more bang for your buck from a full-size Pixma (or other full-size photo printer) at around the same price or even less.

In addition to the mobile features we’ve discussed so far, the Pixma iP110 supports Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, and Canon’s own Pixma Printing Solutions (PPS). The last provides the ability to print from many different cloud sites, such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Photobucket, and Evernote. Even so, the Pixma iP110 provides all this connectivity and functionality via a very Spartan control panel. It comprises just a few buttons, and lacks an LCD or even an LED readout…

In addition to Wi-Fi and direct-cable connectivity, you can print from several of Canon’s digital cameras and video recorders that support Wireless PictBridge connectivity. Note that there is no USB PictBridge port for printing straight from a PictBridge-compatible camera by wire, nor an SD or other flash-memory slot for printing from a camera card. In any case, you’d have a devil of a time doing much in the way of direct, device-less printing using this printer’s control panel.

Setup & Paper Handling

The Pixma iP110 comes in a shipping carton about the size of a bread box. Unpacking it is easy; it involves removing a minimal amount of packing material, some tape, and a little plastic wrap. As mentioned, you can connect to the Pixma iP110 via Wi-Fi, USB, or Wi-Fi Direct. For most of the aforementioned mobile-printing features to work, however, the printer requires a Wi-Fi connection, which we were able to set up without much fuss by following the Pixma iP110’s Start Here guide.

Aside from Canon’s Pixma iP100 (the long-serving model that the Pixma iP110 replaces), the iP110 is the only photo-centric mobile printer we know of that can do full 8.5-inch-wide output. To that end, it makes use of five distinct inks, supplied in two cartridges. The smaller of the two is a Pigment Black tank that, according to Canon, enhances text and solid black areas and increases the printer’s overall color space. The other, bigger one is a four-ink tank that contains the standard four process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). Both tanks slip into the printhead, which you must first install into the printhead carriage. The completed mechanism is shown here...

Unlike most other inkjet printers, especially those that cost $300 or more, this one doesn’t support multiple cartridge-fill sizes, or yield levels. You can buy only the standard-size Canon PGI-35 and CLI-36 tanks. The Pigment Black tank, according to Canon, is good for about 200 prints, and it sells for $14.99. The four-ink tank sells for $18.99 and yields about 100 pages. Using these numbers, the Pixma iP110’s cost-per-page (CPP) figures work out to about 7.5 cents (for black-and-white pages) and about 26.5 cents (for color pages).

No matter how you slice it in a larger sense, these numbers are high, especially for a $250-to-$350 single-function printer. Compared to other mobile printers, though, these CPPs aren’t entirely out of line. Epson’s WorkForce WF-100, for instance, yields about 9 cents per page for monochrome prints and 18 cents for color ones. (Keep in mind that most users print more black-and-white pages than color.) And keep in mind, this is meant to be a photo printer, and photo printers typically have high ink costs regardless of their size. (Admittedly, nearly 27 cents for color pages—and that not with 100 percent page coverage—is quite high, and it suggests that printing full-page-coverage photos will be quite expensive indeed, comparably speaking.)

If you print large, high-resolution images regularly, you’ll need to keep a supply of cartridges on hand with this printer—they’ll empty quickly.

Paper Handling

Canon Pixma iP110

Canon Pixma iP110 Review

Paper handling doesn’t get any more basic than the hardware on the Pixma iP110. When you’re ready to print, you extend the device’s lid upward to yield the input tray. It’s capable of holding 50 sheets of plain paper, a few #10 envelopes, or a small sheaf of photo paper (the amount of photo stock depending on the paper’s thickness, or weight). Your printed pages land on the desktop or whatever surface the Pixma iP110 is sitting on, like in this Canon promotional shot…

As you can imagine, while this kind of arrangement works okay for a print or two, the open output area in front of the printer fills up fast. You need to clear your printed pages frequently—ideally, after each one for photo prints to avoid any possible smearing, or after every few documents to keep the new ones from shoving the previous prints out of the way or off the desk.

Performance, Print Quality & Conclusion

As for print speed, Canon claims 9 "images per minute" (or "ipm") and 5.8ipm color for business documents, and that 4x6-inch borderless snapshots should print in about 53 seconds—not bad at all for a mobile printer. (Essentially, pages per minute, or ppm, and ipm mean the same thing, for our purposes here; this Canon subsite gives a good overview of the ipm specification, which is coming to greater prominence given the adoption of ISO print-speed standards by printer makers in recent years.)

When it comes to performance claims, though, we don’t take the vendor’s word for it. Even so, we haven’t tested many machines in this niche category recently, so we don’t have enough results logged to present our usual bank of performance comparison charts. But we tested the Pixma iP110 and present its numbers here just the same.

Much more often than not, we suspect your Pixma iP110’s output will consist of one or two pages—and if you use it solely as a photo printer, just one page at a time. The following results are not quite fully scientific, but they should give you a good understanding of our experience testing this printer.

Text-only documents printed (wirelessly) at roughly 6 pages per minute (ppm), but when we threw in some graphics, images, and color, print speeds slowed down to about three-quarters of that, or about 4.5ppm—not exactly 9ipm and 5.8ipm, but certainly not bad for a device this small.

We also printed two test photos, using a standard pair of testing images that we’ve maintained over many years of printer testing: a 4x6-inch snapshot and an 8.5x11-inch image, both designed to put the printer through its imaging paces. Our snapshot took just under 60 seconds, very close to Canon’s estimate of 53 seconds. The letter-size image, which consisted of the same content as the smaller one, only larger, took just under three minutes to print.

While print speed for photographs is somewhat important, especially on a photo printer, most of those buying a photo printer will be willing to wait a little longer for better output. (Output quality is almost always more important.) That said, these print times aren’t all that far off what we’ve seen from standard consumer-grade photo printers three or four times larger than this one. And again, it’s important to point out that printing out a pile of large (that is, letter- or legal-size) photos at one go on this Pixma might well entail an ink-tank swap in the middle of the process, rendering the idea of "print speed" moot. While the Pixma iP110 is certainly capable of fine output, you wouldn’t want to use it as anything other than an occasional-print machine. (Unless, of course, money is no obstacle, and you can keep a drawer stocked with spare PGI-35 and CLI-36 cartridges at the ready.)

Print Quality

Pixma photo printers, across the board, print good-looking documents and photos. Just because this one is so small and a very different bird than its full-blown desktop siblings doesn’t mean it can’t print as well. Yes, it’s costly, but quality—if our stack of test documents and photos are any indication—isn’t an issue. Text looked close to laser quality, with well-shaped characters. And embedded images and graphics came out detailed, with colors that were brightly and accurately rendered.

We were similarly pleased with the photos we printed. They looked, to be blunt, darn good—the level of quality was high enough that you would feel comfortable handing the output to potential real-estate customers or other prospective clients. We expect excellent quality from Pixma photo printers, and this one didn’t disappoint.

Conclusion

Even though mobile printers have been around for a while, that machines this small are capable of printing so well—and at competitive speeds—is impressive, and worth paying a premium for. The Pixma iP110 delivers the print quality you’d expect from a much larger photo printer; it’s small, light, and easy to fold up and take with you; and it’s just as easy to set up and use. In fact, if you show up to your offsite meeting, photography shoot, or other on-the-road venue with the optional battery charged and everything configured properly, using it in the field can be a simple matter of turning it on and giving it some paper.

In terms of the hardware and the output quality, we found little to kvetch about with this Pixma. We were not impressed, however, with the big additional charge for the battery, which we were able to find online for only about $15 to $20 off its $99.99 list price. Factoring in the battery cost, Epson’s business-oriented WF-100 and this Pixma have identical MSRPs, but the WorkForce model’s battery is included. Another option is HP’s $279.99-MSRP Officejet 100 Mobile Printer. (We saw it for an $80 discount, at around $199.99, when we wrote this in late February 2015.)

It has been updated a few times, but the Officejet 100 has been around since 2011, and its sibling, the Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One Printer, since 2012. Depending on your application—do you need to scan and make copies on the road?—the Officejet 150 could be a more sensible choice. (Keep in mind that we did find using that model’s scanner a bit of a chore, but it was doable.) It’s all about the kind of output you need to generate.

Our bottom line? Few people genuinely need a photo-centric mobile printer that prints beyond snapshot size, especially one that costs this much to use. Canon suggests in its marketing materials that the Pixma iP110 is also a viable printer for users with physical-space restrictions, say in a dorm room or studio apartment—perhaps so, but those same folks will have to accept this printer’s low-volume design, small-capacity (and pricey-per-page) ink tanks, and minimalist paper handling in exchange for those space savings. That’s a tough set of trade-offs.

Mostly, though, this is a niche printer for limited applications, much more of a hobbyist machine or a business-pinch-hitter than a practical day-in, day-out solution. From that perspective, as long as you buy the Pixma iP110 with your eyes open, we’re all for it. The output is great; it just doesn’t break new mobile-printer ground on price.

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