Canon S900

Colour photo printer

The S900 is designed specifically for photo reproduction. If you want the best photo prints, then you're going to have to sacrifice in other areas - like speed and print costs - but the S900 is no different to competitors in this regard.

The $899 S900's text and graphics output aren't bad - just not very speedy. Printing a 10-page monochrome document in draft mode worked out at 4.4ppm, less than Canon's claimed 5.7ppm. A five-page colour PowerPoint presentation gave a 1.4ppm print speed, significantly lower than the claimed 4.2ppm.

When it comes to photo printing, your patience is rewarded. The S900 is a six-colour printer, which breaks down into black, cyan, magenta, yellow, photo cyan and photo magenta. The system uses separate ink tanks, so there's no need to throw away ink you haven't used - simply replace the colour that's exhausted.

The software supplied is user friendly and takes you through the necessary steps to install your printer. On first use you need to align the heads, but that's simply a matter of printing out a test sheet and adjusting the values in the software. Photo reproduction on normal paper was good but lacked detail, especially in dark areas. Switch to photo paper, though, and the results are significantly better. The S900 can also do edge-to-edge printing, so there's no white border.

The S900 is expensive, both in purchase price and ink, and a full set of cartridges will set you back around $180. However, if you want realistic photo output you won't be disappointed. The Canon isn't an all-round top performer, but what it does do it does really well.

Canon S900 ***

An expensive unit, but excels in its purpose - realistic, albeit slow, photo reproduction.

Price: $899.

Phone: (02) 9805 2896.