Canon’s clever under-counter design could be convenient for some, but it’s the strong print performance and super-efficient page yield that really sell this ink tank printer.
Lots of inbox ink
Easy to use
Scanner bed smaller than A4
Rear tray is a problem
High initial cost
No fax or NFC
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Here’s a rare departure from the usual AOI form factor. How about an ADF (automatic document feed) that loads from the front rather than the top?
Type: 3-in-1 color A4 inkjet printer
Functions: Print, scan, copy
Connectivity: Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi
Data storage slots: USB Host
Print speed: 24ipm (mono)
Paper capacity: 250 + 100 sheets
Print quality: 600 x 1,200 dpi
Scan quality: 1,200 x 1,200 dpi
Apple AirPrint: yes
Consumables included: 4x ink bottles (6,000 mono pages, 1,400 color)
Dimensions/Weight: 399 x 410 x 254 mm (WxDxH)/11.5kg
Or a scanner specialized in copying passports and ID cards? The advantage is that you can install it under a counter, or on a shelf and copy documents without having to lift the scanner lid more than a few inches. Costing around US$594 (£470/AUS$919), Canon is aiming its best inkjet printers at retailers, vehicle rental firms, hotels and anyone who needs to cram the full functionality of a 3-in-1 printer into a confined space.
The Canon MAXIFY GX6550 slots into the middle of the GX line of office oriented A4 inkjets. It comes with all the essential business features, such as duplex printing, color copying and a high duty cycle, while eschewing the fax modem and additional paper tray of premium MAXIFY printers like the Canon GX7020/GX7050 We already know Canon’s refillable in tank printers are around 90% more efficient than their cartridge-bound competitors, and with so much bottled ink in the box, could this be the best small business printer?
Canon MAXIFY GX6550: Design and build
Aside from its front-loading ADF, the Canon MAXIFY GX6550 looks much like the other MAXIFY GX models with its off-white panels and tasteful design. It feels robust and well built, but also surprisingly compact given its high capacity for paper and ink There’s room for 350 sheets of A4 paper on board and 170ml of black ink in the tank.
The C/M/Y reservoirs hold 135ml each and you can see how much ink is remaining at a glance. The tilting touchscreen makes it easy to operate. There’s a USB port at the front for printing directly from a thumb drive and the output tray is made of translucent plastic so it’s more obvious when your print job is complete, especially when the printer is installed under the desk where it’s darker.
Usually, the ADF is located on top, but here you can load any multi-page documents that you need copied into a slot at the front. And to enable you to use the flatbed scanner when the printer is under your desk, the scanner bed is shaped so that you can copy smaller documents such as passports and business cards without opening the scanner lid right up.
Surprisingly, the scanner glass is smaller than A4, so larger documents have to be copied via the ADF. That’s fine until you need to duplicate a card-based certificate or something that won’t fit through the rollers of the ADF. The other problem I have with this front-loading design, is the rear tray. It can hold up to 100 sheets of paper, but you can’t get to it when the printer is on a shelf or under the counter, which somewhat defeats the purpose of the frontal ADF.
Canon MAXIFY GX6550: Features and specifications
This mid-range MAXIFY model is a three-in-one, so it can print, scan and copy, but not fax. Wi-Fi with AirPrint compatibility is built in and there’s that front-loading 35-sheet ADF for copying multi-page documents. The main paper tray can hold 250 sheets of A4 paper plus another 100 in the rear tray. You have connections for Ethernet and USB cables with a USB Host port at the front for printing from a flash drive. It can auto duplex print, but does not have single pass duplex scan. There’s no inbuilt NFC module either, but you do get a tilting color touchscreen interface.
The Canon MAXIFY GX6550 prints quickly at a maximum rate of 24ipm (images per minute) and it’s compatible with a very broad range of paper stock from envelopes and greetings cards to glossy photo paper. Being an ink tank inkjet, the consumables cost is also highly competitive. The bundled ink bottles should yield up to 6,000 black and white pages and 14,000 color and if you switch to economy mode, those numbers jump to 9,000 and 21,000. That gives you a very low CPP (cost per page) to justify the rather high purchase price.
Canon MAXIFY GX6550: Setup and operation
The Canon MAXIFY GX6550 comes with a single-page of setup instructions, which you probably won’t need to consult. Simply turn the power on, follow the prompts on the display and you’ll be printing around ten minutes later. Filling the four ink reservoirs is simplified by the supplied bottles which have necks that fit only with the corresponding tanks so there’s no chance of mixing them up.
You’ll need to fill them at least half way before the printer allows you to continue with the setup process. Getting the printer onto your local Wi-Fi network is made easy by the responsive touchscreen and to check the printheads are aligned, the printer will run out a test page for you to examine. Our sample was correctly aligned straight away.
The touchscreen is rather small at 2.7in/6.7cm, but it is sensitive and user-friendly. With its thoughtful front-loading ADF, translucent output tray and highly visible ink tanks, the Canon MAXIFY GX6550 is a pleasure to print with.
Canon MAXIFY GX6550: Performance
The Canon MAXIFY GX6550 put in an equally strong performance with monochrome text documents and full color test pages on plain paper. It can churn black and white pages very quickly for an inkjet. The quoted 25ipm is accurate and while that’s pretty fast for simplex printing, it doesn’t slow down much in auto duplex mode either. At less than 5dB, it prints quite quietly too.
Canon’s MAXIFY printers use pigment based inks rather than water soluble inks, which means robust prints that won’t smudge or fade. The black ink is particularly dark, producing very bold characters even in draft mode. It’s not quite as fine as a laser printer can manage, but the ink remained well contained and crisply delineated at very small point sizes.
The C/M/Y pigment inks are not as vivid as Canon’s dye-based inks but they’re bright enough to create satisfyingly colorful images and documents. And while they’re not so good at bonding with coated photo paper, as water-based inks, this business printer is not too bad at photos. What you find is that the finish on glossy photo paper is just a little flatter than Canon’s photo printers.
The ADF managed to copy all of my multipage test documents without a hitch and loading them into the front of the printer meant that I didn’t have to stand up to do it. And with the glass scanner bed shaped to accommodate ID cards and passports, I was able to photocopy my own documents without having to fully lift the lid. Canon’s frontal ADF is not so much a revolution, as an evolution, but it does mean you can place this printer under your desk. However, there were plenty of times when I had to use the rear tray which is completely inaccessible when the printer is under your desk or on a shelf.
Canon MAXIFY GX6550: Final verdict
By moving the ADF opening from the top to the front, Canon’s latest all-in-one inkjet printer can be installed on a shelf, or under the counter. It’s an improvement on the already excellent design of Canon’s MAXIFY GX models, but it’s still not perfect. How are you going to access the 100-sheet rear tray when your printer is on a shelf?
That said, the Canon MAXIFY GX6550 put in a very strong performance with both monochrome and color printing and that front-loading ADF is certainly easier to access while sitting down. It is well built and a pleasure to operate thanks to the touchscreen and clear ink tank windows. It prints quite quickly and very efficiently using bottled ink.
In terms of cost-per-page Canon’s MegaTank inkjets beat cartridge inkjets and lasers by up to ninety percent. And with enough inbox ink for 9,000 mono pages or 21,000 color (in economy mode), we have no reservations in recommending it for use in a busy office with high print demands.
Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.