Price: £1,995 plus VAT
Canon announced this A3+ format inkjet printer last October, but it has only just started shipping. It's a high-quality model at a premium price, intended for graphic design and pre-print proofing. This explains the 'oversized A3' maximum paper size that allows enough room for a full A3 page area plus any printers' marks or bleeds. However, you can run smaller paper sizes down to B5 postcard formats. The W2200's primary selling points are its high speed, coupled with excellent image-quality. Both come thanks to a new-generation Bubble Jet print head with Canon?s Microfine Droplet technology, with four-picolitre droplet sizes and a dot pitch of 2,400-x-1,200dpi. The head includes 7,680 nozzles - 1,280 for each of the six colours. As it's about an inch high, the head prints a wide swath of image on each pass, hence the high speed of up to six A3 pages per minute at 600dpi in draft mode. The top quality 2,400-x-1,200 dpi mode is slower, but still only takes two minutes per A3 page on glossy photo paper, or four on Canon's semi-gloss proof paper. The W2200 print nozzles also include a heater, which allows them to be directed straight down at the paper, meaning that dot placement is more accurate. Ink different Six inks are used - the familiar set of CMYK, plus light cyan and magenta to give smoother highlights. The dye inks have a wider colour gamut than CMYK printing press inks, meaning that the colour can be tweaked (using ICC profiles) to simulate printing presses, which is what proofing is all about. Ink is supplied in six individually replaceable cartridges, each holding a considerable 130ml. These should last a long time - which is just as well, because they cost £46 each. The printer is neatly styled in blue-grey and off-white, and has a footprint of 587-x-626 mm with the standard multi-size paper tray in place. A second tray can be fitted in an extra-cost extension unit that goes beneath the printer. The W2200 is silent when not printing, and is commendably quiet when operating. This is a network printer with a 10/100baseT ethernet port and a user-selectable IP address as standard, but it can also be connected via built-in FireWire, USB 1.0, or a PC parallel port. Setting up the printer requires a couple of calibration runs and a bit of fiddling with the control buttons to get all the options and the IP address set up, but it's well explained in the manuals. If you're using TCP/IP, the printer?s status and basic controls can be accessed via a Web browser from any networked computer. Software drivers are provided for Mac OS 9 or OS X, plus all Windows varieties from 98 to 2000/XP. Anyone wishing to use the W2200 for serious proofing would also want to add a PostScript RIP to both simulate the way a pre-press RIP works, and allow full-resolution output of EPS files embedded in layout pages. Canon can supply a PosterJet 6.5 software RIP for an extra £995, but this isn't much use for proofing, as it doesn't let you select calibration or proof profiles. More credible proofing RIPs are now appearing for the W2200. They include the £949 BEST ColorProof (www.bestcolor.com), the £2,800 CGS ORIS Colortuner - with a £1,350 Lite option (www.colourbyte.co.uk), and the brand new £940 Global Graphics GlobalColor Solution (www.compose.co.uk). All are for Windows NT/2000 apart from BEST, which also sells a Mac OS X edition. Overall, the W2200 is a fast, high-resolution printer with impressive colour and smooth tones, though the price means that it's always going to be a professional graphics printer rather than a consumer job. It will be a keen contender in the desktop proofing market. Its main competitors are the ageing Epson Stylus Pro 5000/5500 at around £2,750 without a RIP, and the 18-month-old, respectably fast HP Designjet 50ps, whose £2,130 price tag includes a decent Heidelberg RIP. As the W2200's £1,995 price (£2,086 with optional installation) doesn't include a RIP, it may struggle to compete with the HP unless the price comes down.