When you need to print on media bigger than A4, most inkjets can't oblige. Canon's new BJC-6500 has an extra wide format to allow A3 and tabloid printing. It's comptible with both PCs and Macs thanks to its dual USB and parallel interfaces. You can even use the optional print server to allow you to share the BJC-6500 across a variety of networks.
With a maximum resolution of 1440 x 720dpi and a six-colour ink system (with the photo cartridge installed alongside the standard colour cartridge) you would expect some top quality prints. The BJC-6500 is happy to deliver these, but only on special Canon paper.
Unfortunately, on plain paper the results of our quality test were less than impressive. We gave the BJC-6500 just 70 per cent. It is mainly let down by its poor graphics performance - colours were inaccurate, images were grainy and displayed what appeared to be edge enhancements in inappropriate areas. This made smooth lines in images, like hair, look jagged and unnatural. Text quality was fair, and areas of solid black were dense, showing no evidence of banding.
So, just like its smaller brother, the BJC-85, the 6500 almost requires special paper to produce good results. On high resolution paper our quality document looked as good as some of the best printers we have seen, but most of these other printers have managed this high quality on plain paper - a big saving in the long term.
Also like its smaller stablemate, this printer can be doubled up as a scanner by installing the scanner unit in place of the black ink cartridge. This has a resolution of up to 720 x 720 dpi in 24-bit colour, and costs 58 GBP.
In our speed tests, the BJC-6500 achieved a reasonable speed of 4.65ppm. In itself this is a good speed, but Canon claims 7.2ppm in standard mode - over 2.5 pages a minute more than our result showed. Although printing in standard mode for mixed mono and colour documents was fairly quick, as soon as you change the settings to print on high resolution paper the speed drops to a snail's pace.
In its favour, the BJC-6500 has separate ink tanks for each colour. This eliminates any wasted ink, as when a colour runs out you can simply replace that tank without having to throw the other unused colours away. The printheads are also separate from the inktanks, which means you can purchase the ink at a reduced cost without having to replace the printhead each time the ink runs out.