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Lifewire / Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick
Outstanding document and photo quality
Individual ink cartridges mean lower costs
Easy wireless access with AirPrint
Strong, sturdy, simple design
No duplex printing
Unreliable setup website
If all you need to do is print documents and photos, this Pixma is a great choice.
The Canon Pixma iX6820 is a heavy-duty printer that’s perfect for photo enthusiasts and professionals that produce color documents regularly. It may not be as speedy as some of the competition, but it prints outstanding photos and yields high-quality color and black and white documents. If you don’t need your printer to scan, copy, or fax, it’s a solid investment.
This Pixma model is a very straightforward printer. When we received our test unit, there was a warning taped to the box that emphasized that “It is not an all-in-one printer. It does not scan or copy.” The warning goes on to say that if you purchased this printer by mistake to return it immediately. If you need features such as a scanner or copier, you may want to consider this printer’s sister product, the Canon Pixma TS9120.
Measuring 23 x 12.3 x 6.3 inches, you’ll need to clear a decent amount of space to use it. It’s also not a device you can push flush against a wall. Because its rear paper feeder and front paper tray protrude so much, you have to make sure you have at least thirteen more inches of space in front of the printer and seven to the rear. While this is by no means an industrial-sized machine, it’s not a compact printer either.
The third thing to know is that this is a heavy-duty printer. It’s 17.9 pounds, made of handsome but solid material and sturdy as a rock. This is a big contrast to the Pixma TS9120, which often felt like it was going to break or shed parts if it was handled less-than-gently. You surely can’t drop it on the floor and expect it to survive, but you can open compartments and doors without feeling like they’re on the verge of falling off.
Color, text, and graphics were bold and smooth, and there was no hint of print lines or uneven ink.
It draws paper from a single source, the top feeder. The feeder can hold up to 150 sheets and is compatible with 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, 11x17 and 13x19 paper. It also prints to standard letter and legal papers, as well also U.S. #10 envelopes.
The Pixma iX6820 uses five individual color ink cartridges instead of the traditional black and tri-color cartridges. This is a great advantage because it means you can change out particular colors as they run out. For example, if you’re printing photos that drain cyan much faster than yellow and magenta, you’d have to pay full price for a new tri-color cartridge, even though your reserves on the other colors are nearly full. With this model, you can just get the cyan cartridge and save cash and ink.
In addition to individual tanks, Canon also includes a second black cartridge called “Pigment Black.” This is aimed at not only giving you enough black reserves to handle both text-based documents and photos, but also to make the black in the photos as dark and true to your digital pictures as possible. Other Canon printers we tested have an additional “Photo Blue” color for added quality, but that’s absent from the Pixma iX6820.
One thing that makes this AirPrint printer somewhat frustrating to use is the lack of any type of display. This means that you’re essentially flying blind when it comes to things like setup, paper or carriage jams, or any other errors. It also means that you’re dependent on a computer to use it. Other printers we tested have spacious touch screens that allow you to access and use the printer’s functions without even turning on a computer or mobile device.
Another feature this wireless printer lacks is duplex printing, the ability to print documents on both sides of a sheet of paper. This may seem like a small thing, since double-sided printing takes much longer and doesn’t reduce ink usage, but it does save on paper cost.
If all goes well, you should be able to have this printer setup and running within an hour of opening the box. The included instructions are picture-based with minimal text, and very easy to follow. Even if you’re not tech savvy, you should be able to set it up with few problems. During our testing phase, we had the hardware side of setup finished in about 25 minutes.
But when it came to installing software and connecting it to the network, we struggled mightily. We had previously set up the Canon Pixma TS9120 and the process was swift and easy, and since we already had Canon’s software on our test machine we expected an expedited installation process.
However, we discovered that the the iX6820 required additional software. We followed the instructions to the appropriate website to download the software but got nothing but 502 errors and garbled text. We were forced to give up the setup process and wait for Canon’s website to resolve its issues which it did about a day and a half later.
We also experienced mild frustration with the printer’s performance early in our testing. Our first two attempts to print our test screenplay abruptly halted about a quarter of the way through the job. We attempted to print the file again with the same result. In order for us to print the whole document we had to create a new PDF with a different file name.
During our testing period, we printed hundreds of pages of black and white, text-based documents. When we inspected the results, we found the text to be crisp, well-defined, and without any evidence of smudging or smearing. The black was deep, pronounced, and legible regardless of font.
Color document printing was similarly excellent. We printed about a dozen color documents—newsletters, calendars, flyers, certificates, and stationary. In each case, color, text, and graphics were bold and smooth, and there was no hint of print lines or uneven ink.
We also used the Pixma iX6820 to print a full 50-pack worth of 4x6 photographs and a few 8x10s. The quality of the print was excellent. The blacks were deep, colors were bright and rich, and whites were vibrant.
Skin-tone was also remarkably good, if you have highly-detailed closeups of someone’s skin or face, you’ll see every pore and blemish. After the images were printed, the ink dried quickly and each photo was absolutely frame-worthy.
The maximum print resolution for this printer is 9600x2400 dpi for color and 600x600 for black. This blows the other printers we tested out of the water in terms of pure specifications and is reflected in the results. The OfficeJet 3830 and Pixma TS9120 only occasionally matched the depth of color and level of detail produced by the Pixma iX6820.
To gauge the printing speed of the AirPrint printers we tested, we used them to print a 100-page, text-only screenplay. The Pixma iX6820 performed the task in 13 minutes and 14 seconds, averaging 13.2 pages per minute. That’s quick, but the HP OfficeJet was able to print the same document in 11 minutes and 12 seconds, and the Pixma TS9120 only took nine minutes and 30 seconds.
Color printing speeds will vary dramatically depending on the type of document you’re printing. Printing a color coded spreadsheet can take as little as 45 seconds, while a graphics heavy newsletter could take up to two minutes, comparable to the other printers we’ve tested.
Canon bundle several programs with this device. After setup, the main one you’ll use is My Image Garden. It’s a capable program with good photo organizing tools and design capabilities. You can use the program to print your photos, design and print photo layouts, collages, cards, calendars, and even stickers.
The interface is basic and easy to navigate, and the design tools are accessible to anyone who has even basic computer skills. There are, however, tools in MIG that you can’t use with this printer, like scanning or printing directly to an optical disc.
It’s widely available for $140 or less, a steal for everything the iX8620 offers.
If you’re a Mac user, know that MIG lacks the ability to pull your images from Apple’s Photos app. If you want to use those pictures, you’ll have to export them from Photos and place them in a folder somewhere outside the app. The Pictures folder in Finder to best way to make them easy to find in My Image Garden.
This printer did not come with an ethernet cable to connect to a network or computer, likely to encourage you to take full advantage of this AirPrint printer’s wireless capabilities. After initial setup, you can connect this printer to any computer on the same Wi-Fi network.
Any device running macOS or iOS will be able to utilize AirPrint with the Pixma iX6820. During our testing phase, we used AirPrint to print documents and iPhotos from a 2015 iMac, a 2017 MacBook Pro, and several iPhones ranging from the iPhone X all the way back to the 5S. Each detected the Pixma iX6820 quickly and the printing process began immediately after we clicked or tapped print, and we had a finished one-page document in less than 10 seconds.
Unfortunately, the iX6820 lacks a memory card slot or USB port. This would be very useful to photographers who want to print their images directly from an SD card or directly from a camera without the hassle of dealing with a computer.
While it’s meant to be used wirelessly, there is an ethernet port in the back panel of this AirPrint printer. You’ll have to bring your own cable, but you can connect it to a traditional wired network or directly to a computer.
Canon lists the MSRP of this wireless printer at $199, a decent price considering the results it yields, but you can also regularly find it for less. At the time of this writing it’s widely available for $140 or less, a steal for everything the iX8620 offers.
We tested this machine alongside the HP OfficeJet 3830 (K7V40A). If you’re choosing between the two, we recommend the Pixma iX6820 if you value high-quality photo printing above all else. For a dependable, quick office workhorse, go with the HP OfficeJet 3830.
Does one thing extremely well.
The Canon Pixma iX6820 has a single function, to print documents and photos, and it does it quite well. It produces high-quality results quickly and can connect to most computers and mobile devices easily. It’s probably overkill for home users, unless you’re very serious about photo quality. It will do well as a small office machine for moderate printing.