Head to Head: Battle of the Flagship AIOs

by Reads (7,824)

PrinterComparison has started a new series of Head to Head comparisons of the latest and greatest printers out on the market today. Find out who will be the victor in today’s challenge – the Battle of the Flagship AIOs – where the top photo all-in-ones from Canon, Epson and Kodak are put to the test!

The Battle of the Flagship AIOs

The Players:
Canon Pixma MG8220 Wireless Photo All-in-One – the second generation in the Pixma MG lineup (goodbye Pixma MG8120) featured much of what we’ve seen before: print, scan and copy capabilities as well as print speeds up to 12.5 ipm in black and 9.3 ipm in color, a print resolution up to 9600 x 2400 dpi, 3.5-inch LCD with Intelligent Touch, automatic duplexing, two way paper feeding, a film adapter unit and wireless connectivity.

Add in the new CD/DVD/Blu-Ray print tray and Pixma Cloud Link feature, and the Canon PIXMA MG8220 is one fierce competitor.

Epson Artisan 837 All-in-One – This device replaced the previous generation Artisan 835 in August 2011 and offered a similar design, functionalities (print, scan, copy and fax) and many of the same features: built-in Wi-Fi, memory card reader, automatic duplexing, 30-sheet ADF, CD/DVD prints and separate photo tray.

But, as one of the first adopters of the smart touch panel and stationary ink cartridges, don’t expect the Epson Artisan 837 to give in without a fight.

Kodak HERO 9.1 All-in-One – This new AIO was introduced in September 2011 and it’s the only “home” printer from Kodak to offer fax functionality along with the typical trio of print, scan and copy. The flashy HERO 9.1 has a sleek new design with a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, 30-page ADF, 100-sheet paper tray with a 40-sheet photo tray and print speeds up to 8.5 ipm in black and 5.5 ipm in color.

There may be some negative stories out there about the health of Kodak’s digital camera business, but the HERO 9.1 hasn’t heard them.

The New:
All three manufacturers have added Cloud printing and mobile print apps to their lineup so of course they are staples on their top photo all-in-ones. Epson and Kodak give us their version of HP’s ePrint – a mobile printing technology that creates unique email addresses for your printer that allows customers to print directly to their AIO from anywhere and from any device with email service. Neither service is quite as good as HP ePrint in usability, but they are closing in fast.

Canon has been the slowest adopter in this realm with the Canon Cloud Link, a watered down version where users can print wirelessly from certain applications such as Picasa, Google Docs and Canon Gateway.

The Artisan 837’s design is nearly identical to the previous generation (minus the touch of midnight blue), but Canon did give the Pixma MG8220 a matte black finish that I preferred to the previous MG8120’s glossy (read smudgy) finish. Kodak’s HERO lineup got a complete makeover from the previous ESP Photo AIO lineup and, in my opinion, wins the most improved award.

The Good:
Can I just say that all three printers did a great job printing and offering creative features? The Artisan 837 probably wins the quality photo print honor, but the Pixma MG8220 is such a close second that really I think depending on the shot and size, this could be reversed. Either way, you won’t lose sleep over it because they both do an excellent job.

The HERO 9.1 does a good job too, but the prints just can’t compare when you have a single color cartridge (even if it is five colors). The individual cartridges and the mix of dye and pigment inks give the Artisan 837 and Pixma MG8220 the advantage in this category. But it can also end up being a disadvantage (think total ink replacement costs).

Canon’s Pixma flagship has offered a film scanner as long as I’ve been reviewing these devices and it’s a unique feature I haven’t seen on other AIOs in awhile. I personally like it a lot, and when I was reviewing said MG8220, I spent more time than I’d like to admit scanning in old film from college.

All three printers offer touch panels and although I might have dragged my heels a bit when touch first came on board with printers, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. I really enjoy the intelligent touch or smart touch or whatever the specific manufacturer wants to call their touch panel. They add a level of style as well as functionality when you have web apps, creative extras plus the usual settings, device menus, maintenance, etc. to navigate. The only downside can be if the touchscreen isn’t responsive enough, as we’ve seen during other reviews.

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