The competitively priced, mid-size Canon PIXMA TR4520 is a good choice for those that would like to print their own photos but don't have a highly critical eye for quality. This model does have some image fidelity issues where colors are sometimes off or over-saturated. We observed microbanding in the larger prints as well. That said, this machine is easy to use, produces decent quality pics, and unlike other top-models we tested, won't cost you an arm and a leg. Plus, it has a minimal footprint and doubles as an office printer/ scanner.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Canon PIXMA TR4520 on March 28, 2022, with a closer look at value and direct comparisons to other similar products.
Canon PIXMA TR4520 Review
Pros: Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes
Cons: Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation
Compare to Similar Products
Canon PIXMA TR4520
|Price||$100 List||$400 List|
$349.99 at Amazon
$129.00 at Amazon
$99.99 at Amazon
$69.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes||Consistent color, easy set-up, broad format options||User-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playful||Convenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivity||Relatively good image quality, easy to set up, useful app|
|Cons||Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation||Microbanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areas||Limited print sizes, limited tray capacity||Relatively low resolution, single print dimension||Wasteful paper refills, limited dynamic range, single size format|
|Bottom Line||An easy to use mid-size printer at a good price||This low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end results||This portable printer kicks out quality 4" x 6" prints anytime, anywhere||This portable printer captures the fun of the old Polaroid cameras but with a fresh twist||This easy to use, portable printer has relatively few drawbacks and is a lot of fun|
|Rating Categories||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Epson Expression HD...||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Canon IVY||Kodak Mini 2 HD|
|Black and White (35%)|
|Print Capabilities (15%)|
|Operating Cost (10%)|
|Set up (5%)|
|Specs||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Epson Expression HD...||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Canon IVY||Kodak Mini 2 HD|
|Resolution (dots per inch)||4800 x 1200||5760 x 1440||300 x 300||314 x 400||Unspecified|
|Max photo dimensions||8" x 10"||13" x 44"||4" x 6"||2" x 3"||2.1" x 3.4"|
|Cost per print (4" x 6" or mini print)||$0.58||$0.45||$0.43||$0.50||$0.68|
|Machine dimensions||7.5" x 17.2" x 11.7"||6.3" x 18.7" x 14.5"||2.5" x 7.1" x 5.4"||0.7" x 3.2" x 4.7"||1" x 3" x 5.2"|
|Printing technology||Inkjet (Theromal DOD)||Inkjet (Piezo DOD)||Inkjet (Dye- sublimation)||In paper, thermal-activated dye||Dye sublimation thermal transfer|
|Print time per 4" x 6" (or mini print)||128 seconds||34 seconds||51 seconds||40 seconds||61 seconds|
|Color palette (ink cartridges)||Black plus color cartridge||Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Gray, Red||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Battery||No||No||Yes (sold separately)||Yes||Yes|
|Memory cards supported||N/A||N/A||SD, SDHC, SDXC, miniSD, miniSDHC, microSD microSDHC and microSDXC||N/A||N/A|
|Ink type||Pigment (black) and dye-based (color)||Dye-based||Dye-based||N/A||N/A|
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 2.4 GHz)
|iPad, iPhone and Android tablets, Alexa and smartphones; Ethernet networking, andard Connectivity:
Hi-Speed USB, USB Host, Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, Wi-Fi Direct 5, Ethernet 10/100
|Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN, 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g)
Memory Card Slot
PictBridge (USB) & Wireless PictBridge (Wireless LAN)
Hi-Speed USB (Cable not included)
USB Flash Memory
|Blutooth||NFC, USB Port, Wi-Fi Direct|
|Operating system requirements||Windows:20 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Mac:21
Mac OS X v10.10.5 - macOS v10.13 (High Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:22 iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Fire OS (Amazon Fire) devices
|Windows 10 8/8.1/Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows Vista (32-bit , 64-bit)
Mac OS X 10.6.8 — macOS 10.12.x6
|Windows:12 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1
Mac:13 Mac OS X v10.10.x - macOS v10.12 (Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:14 iOS, Android™, Windows 10 Mobile, Amazon Fire devices15
|Android, iOS||Android, iOS|
|Scanner||Yes (bed and feed)||No||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
What sets this machine apart from the other mid-size models is its price point, the quality of its prints, and its ease of use. This model will dish out decent-looking photos in common formats and paper types. Additionally, it will scan, copy, fax, and print text documents. The machine is compact, too. So you won't have to devote a significant portion of the desk to it, as is the case with full-size printers. Oh yeah, did we mention that it's affordable?
If you're looking to produce some classic 4" x 6" prints of the family's last vacation, the colors rendered from the Canon PIXMA TR4520 will likely suit you fine. Yes, indeed, this machine occasionally has some off skin tones, and it tends to over-saturate blues. Some microbanding issues became increasingly apparent as the print format increased.
However, that's the kind of stuff that tends to jump out when one is making a comparative analysis, and not when you're taking a walk down memory lane. What's important to keep in mind with this machine is that it is easy to use and gets the job done reasonably well.
The resolution is quite respectable, and it stays consistent up to the 8" x 10" format. Having looked at a lot of pictures in the course of this review — including those from chain store developers — we can say definitively that the color prints coming out of this machine will not dissatisfy the everyday photographer.
Black and White Prints
The black and white images produced on the PIXMA TR4520 were slightly better quality than the color images, but not by much. We still had some microbanding that was more evident in the grayscale and became more pronounced as the print size increased. However, there was a noticeable lack of streaking in the dark areas of the images that we observed with some of the higher-end printers. Additionally, the dynamic range (i.e., the breadth of tones from white to black) was unexpectedly broad, defining the images.
This machine is never going to satisfy a professional photographer. That said, we poured over hundreds of black and whites in the course of this review, focusing on the resolution and overall impression. We can say unequivocally that the TR4620's black and whites were better than average.
For a mid-sized printer, the TR4520 has a good range of capabilities. It will produce 4" x 6", 5" x 7", and 8" x 10" prints on a variety of papers ranging from super glossy to matte. It will do greeting cards, t-shirt transfers, and envelopes as well.
While not endowed with a vast ink palette, the tri-color and black ink cartridges do a good job considering the limitations a narrow color scheme can create. On the downside, the PIXMA TR4520 has a long print time when compared to other printers in the review. At 128 seconds per 4" x 6" color print, this output is more than double the average for the class.
Making the situation worse, the paper tray can only accommodate 20 sheets of 4" x 6" photo paper. You may have to babysit the printer when tackling bigger printing runs.
The operating cost is an evaluation of the long-term cost to run the printer. To make this figure easy to grasp, we have refined it to the cost to print a single 4" x 6" color picture.
The PIXMA TR4520 is right around average for the class at $0.58. We come to the 58 cent number by calculating the amount of ink needed to cover one square inch of paper and multiplying that times 24 (the number of square inches in a 4" x 6" sheet of photo paper).
We then took that number and added it to the cost of a single sheet of photo paper. We found this estimate conservative but supported by similar research from production photo labs.
As you might guess from the name, the set-up metric evaluates the difficulty (or ease) of going from a boxed up printer to one that is producing photos. The PIXMA TR4520 uses an app, as opposed to a driver, to process the photos from your device to the printer.
Connection to the machine is made via WiFi. The whole process was streamlined and easy to execute. The first prints coming out of the machine were quite good as well.
Should You Buy the Canon PIXMA TR4520?
We can't think of a better cost to performance ratio than what the Canon PIXMA TR4520 has on offer. You should consider several pros and cons before settling on this photo printer. The cost of the machine is at the top of the pros column. Conversely, the cons column is primarily a matter of perspective. This machine does not yield high-quality images. So, if that's what you're looking for, consider one of the full-size machines in this review. However, this machine does render decent photos on par with what you'd expect from a chain photo lab. It also covers a decent range of papers and formats to satisfy the average person. With that in mind, we think that this machine is a great deal and will be more than proficient for getting images of friends and family off your phone and into some frames.
What Other Photo Printers Should You Consider?
The Canon PIXMA TR4520's overall performance is well above average, yet it is priced significantly below average for the class. But considering the print quality of this price-point option, high-end photographers might want to consider a professional-quality printer like the award-winning Epson SureColor P700 or the Canon PIXMA Pro-200. If you want a full-size printer but are still shopping on a budget, look at the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000.
— Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer
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