The majority of Canon’s Pixma inkjet printers are geared toward printing great photos, like the impressive six-ink Canon PIXMA TS8050, but the Canon Pixma TR8550 is aimed squarely at the home office. As such, it has only five (rather than six) ink cartridges and adds a document feeder and duplex printing. The inclusion of a fax facility, puts this machine in the competitive category of compact four-in-one MFPs. At around £199 (about US$265,AU$355) it is quite keenly priced.
And this model really is compact. Canon reckons it is 38% smaller than the MX920 it replaces, while retaining two separate paper trays front and rear and a 20-sheet ADF on top. What Canon offers that the average MFD doesn’t, is a large 4.3-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi and a fifth ink cartridge to enhance the print quality.
Printers for the home office have been getting progressively smaller and the Canon Pixma TR8550 is a prime example. With all of the flaps and extending trays folded away, it’s little bigger than Canon’s family oriented photo printers and yet it incorporates a 100-sheet main paper tray, a 20-sheet rear paper tray for photo paper and envelopes and a 20-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) on top.
It looks smart and sophisticated with the extra-large touchscreen taking up most of the front panel and you probably wouldn’t begrudge this unobtrusive printer sharing your desk.
Here are the full specs of the Canon Pixma TR8550:
Type: Multifunction colour inkjet printer
Functions: Print, copy, scan, fax
Ink: Five cartridges (C, M, Y, BK, PGBK)
Paper size: A4
Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth
Data storage slot: SD Card slot
Print speed: 15ppm (mono), 10ppm (colour)
Main paper tray capacity: 100 sheets
Print quality: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi
Scan quality: 1,200 x 2,400 dpi
Apple AirPrint: Yes
Google Cloud Print: Yes
App support: iOS/Android
Consumables included: 5 ink cartridges
Size/weight: 190 x 438 x 351mm (HxWxD)/8kg
The Canon Pixma TR8550 is a four-in-one, which means the print, scan, copy and fax boxes are all ticked, this is a feature-rich machine and Canon has done well to include luxuries like a 4.3-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity for the money.
Bluetooth compliments the inbuilt Wi-Fi and makes it even easier to ensure a stable wireless connection with a smartphone so that you can use the handy Canon Print companion app, while the touchscreen makes it easy to use and monitor at a glance.
Instead of four ink cartridges, there’s an extra pigment black to improve text and photo quality. You can tell this printer was made by a Camera brand because it also has an SD Card input and can connect to Canon cameras wirelessly via PictBridge.
Essential features such as duplex printing and connectivity with cloud services like Dropbox are present too, which means the only items missing are NFC connectivity (although Bluetooth makes up for this) and a front USB port.
Setup and operation
The 10.8cm colour touchscreen might seem an unnecessary extravagance for a printer, but the asking price for this model is still low and it certainly makes installation and operation easier than it would have been without it. Getting started is simply a case of following the instructions and printing out the test sheets when prompted. You have five cartridges to fit instead of four.
The touchscreen proves its worth when you have to type in the password to your Wi-Fi network. It’s not a sensitive as your smartphone’s screen, or course, but it’s quicker than the fiddly hard buttons you usually have to contend with. The screen is also great for switching between paper stock and monitoring the status of your current print job at a glance.
The Canon Print app is also very helpful when it comes to scanning and printing. Canon uses the app to offer its own cloud printing service, although this takes some time to set up.
How we test printers
Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app. To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colours, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, colour fidelity, contrast and grey scale.
We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.
We found the Canon Pixma TR8550 to be rather slow when it came to printing mono duplex pages of text, but the pages were worth waiting for. The additional cartridge delivers black pigment ink in addition to the four dyes, which gives printed words a rich darkness, while maintaining a delicate touch. Very small point sizes are just as clearly defined as large letters.
The extra ink also befits colour documents, with colours appearing vivid and well contained and blacks, evenly filled in throughout. Photographs on photo paper are particularly well shaded, accurate and colourful. Well what did you expect from a camera manufacturer. Presumably it is because the print resolution is only half the DPI of the Canon PIXMA TS8050 that photos look noticeably softer. It also lacks the additional grey cartridge of that model’s six-ink system.
By adding a fax and ADF and keeping the cost low, some sacrifices in print quality have been made. Despite this, the Canon Pixma TR8550 turns out mono, colour and photo prints that will impress.
The size and style of this surprisingly compact printer will endear it to anyone who works in a cramped office, while that enormous 4.3-inch touchscreen makes everything from setup to checking your workflow at a glance, just a little bit easier.
The Pixma TR8550 ticks off all of the features a home office might need including duplex printing, separate paper feeds for plain and photo paper and an ADF. Bluetooth, in addition to Wi-Fi, ensures an easy connection with the helpful Canon Print app and that extra ink cartridge gives every text document a crisp and bold finish, while photos appear rich and vivid.
By adding a fax and ADF to what looks very much like the Pixma TS8050 photo printer, the Pixma TR8550 gains some bulk while compromising its print quality. It is also rather expensive to run, with that additional black pigment cartridge meaning that you have to buy five, rather than the usual four replacements.
For the money, and we’ve seen some significant discounts on this model already, the Pixma TR8550 has a lot to offer. To begin with, the compact size is an achievement given that it has three separate paper feeds, five ink cartridges and a huge 4.3-inch touchscreen display. It also offers the essentials such as duplex printing and sending high-resolution scans to the cloud via a companion app. It also prints mono, colour and photos in great quality. Like many cartridge-based inkjets, however, replacement ink is expensive.