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Canon Bubble Jet S9000 Inkjet Printer Review

Canon Bubble Jet S9000 Inkjet Printer Review - The S9000 was announced at the beginning of January 2002 and became available in February. Interest in A3 printers is growing as more people want to print larger prints and there are only a few models to choose from.

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Category : Inkjet Printers
Product : Canon Bubble Jet S9000
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Canon Bubble Jet S9000The S9000 was announced at the beginning of January 2002 and became available in February. Interest in A3 printers is growing as more people want to print larger prints and there are only a few models to choose from. The S9000 receives particular interest because it follows on from the S800 which impressed many, and this new model boasts an even further improved specification. Aimed squarely at enthusiasts and professionals Canon are putting up some very tough competition for the more established HP and Epson brands.

 

First impressions of the S9000's build were favourable, it isn't a back breaker like the HP CP1700 we had in previously. It does take up more desk space, but makes up for this by being much quieter in operation. Costing around 450 it is more expensive than most other A3 printers, but those people who can afford to regularly print at A3 size may not find this a problem.

  • Print resolution of 2400x1200dpi
  • Print speed up to 6ppm mono and 6ppm colour
  • Advanced Microfine Droplet Technology
  • Single ink technology
  • 1/6 density photo inks
  • Up to 25 years lightfastness
  • Borderless printing up to A3 size
  • USB Connection
  • Approx. 37dB
  • 1 year on-site warranty
  • 8 Kg weight, 573 x 334 x 196mm dimensions

The feature list reads very like the Canon S900 which is unsuprising as they share the same cartridges and print head. The same strong points are there: high resolution, separate ink cartridges, borderless printing and an on-site warranty. Canon are aiming at more than high quality print output, they're attempting to deliver a topnotch package all round which makes the high cost of this printer a little easier to swallow.

Design, interfaces and installation
Installation on most modern operating systems is very straightforward, and the Printer connects to your PC or Mac easily with USB. As is the case with most printers no USB cable is supplied. When you've connected and configured the printer, and it's sitting there on your desk taking up any spare space you had left you can start printing.

Canon Bubble Jet S9000

The software for the S9000 is almost identical to the S900 and as such is intuitively laid out and provides the same useful print advisor for those who are new to printing.

Performance
Speed is one of the main strengths of this printer and it can print A3 quicker than some printers can turn out A4. Not only is it fast but it's also reasonably quiet, certainly a lot more so than the HP CP1700. In our review of the HP CP1700 we compared performance with the S9000, and the results are duplicated below:

Printer Paper Size Print type Print Time
HP CP1700 A4 Mono text 34sec
Canon S9000 A4 Mono text 21sec
HP CP1700 A4 Colour Graphics 2min 32sec
Canon S9000 A4 Colour Graphics 55sec
HP CP1700 A4 Photo (High quality) 2min 11sec
Canon S9000 A4 Photo (High quality) 1min 45sec
HP CP1700 A3 Photo (High quality) 4min 23sec
Canon S9000 A3 Photo (High quality) 3min 35sec

The HP was quite fast but next to the Canon it didn't stand a chance. What makes these figures all the more impressive is the high level of print quality the S9000 manages to maintain.

Print Quality
Although still not a perfect printer, results we achieved were very impressive. Definitely the best we've seen from a printer in this price class so far. The strongest aspects are the excellent colour rendition, fine detailing and ink droplets which are are very hard to see.

There were banding problems with our test printer which was the reason for the delay of this review. Swapping the print head fixed the banding immediately. We heard reports of two other people having the same problem, but bear in mind this is a very small proportion of the total printers Canon will sell so it's nothing to worry about.

We use a standard AGFA test chart as the first step of checking the print quality and it is easy to compare this with other printers. The S9000 produces on the right paper, the same great quality print as the S800, with a little improvement. S9000 and S900 AGFA test sheets are even at a close look, identical.

Density
Canon Bubble Jet S9000
Canon Bubble Jet S9000This print shows the S9000 has the same detail resolving capabilities of the S900. Grain from the original photo is visible making it hard to spot ink droplets and finer details of the framework the sign is built on show up well.

Skin tone
Canon Bubble Jet S9000As we're becoming used to seeing in Canon prints detail is excellent, with skin tone and texture being well represented.

Colour

Canon Bubble Jet S9000Printer resolution and speed are no good without good colour reproduction, and the Canon does an excellent job. It's still not perfect, but then no printers at this level are yet. It does come about the closest yet we've seen from an inkjet to a traditional high quality print though.

The caveat is that results can vary significantly on which paper you use. We found ICI Glossy paper to be an almost equal match to Canon Photo Paper Pro. Ink droplets were a tiny bit more visible and there was a small degree of colour variation. Considering the money that can be saved through third-party paper many people will want to explore these options further.

Black and white
Inkjet printers are often inadequate for black and white printing. Colour casts are common, and we test here to see how capable the S9000 is.

Looking at the two prints below we see the left is the worst result and the right the best. The left print fails due to the paper type producing a greenish cast, it's also too light. The right print has been tweaked in Photoshop, and despite being printed in Colour print mode shows no perceptible colour cast. Canon have obviously applied more care to this area than some rivals.

Canon Bubble Jet S9000 Canon Bubble Jet S9000
(Greyscale print mode, ICI Matt 160gsm paper) (Colour print mode, Photo Paper Pro)

These next four prints show the difference between the papers and the print modes. We switched to ICI 180gsm Matt paper following on from the incompatibility with the ICI 160gsm.

Unfortunately the differences don't show up as clearly here as they do on the prints. When printing in Greyscale mode the print was slightly lighter, and showed inferior contrast. There was no sign of a colour cast being introduced from printing in the Colour print mode and the prints had more tonal range.

The ICI Matt paper was generally a little disappointing, and better results will no doubt be achievable on heavier weight paper. The Glossy Photo Paper Pro seems well suited to black and white printing, and with experimentation and tweaking the S9000 is a very capable black and white printer.

Canon Bubble Jet S9000 Canon Bubble Jet S9000
(Greyscale print mode, ICI Matt 180gsm paper) (Colour print mode, ICI Matt 180gsm paper)
Canon Bubble Jet S9000 Canon Bubble Jet S9000
(Greyscale print mode, Photo Paper Pro) (Colour print mode, Photo Paper Pro)

Verdict
For those of you with around 500 to spend on a top quality A3 inkjet we'd not hesitate in recommending the S9000. There's a lot to like about it, and almost nothing to complain about. High speed and high quality printing is going to make the S9000 a very popular printer and Canon designers are probably feeling justifiably pleased with themselves.

For people on a smaller budget the Epson 1290 is a good alternative, but there is a trade-off of quality and performance.

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