Canon promises a source of big printouts for the frugal office and home user.
Recently I covered the Canon iP8750, a classy A3 inkjet printer aimed at professional designers, photographers and artists. That was an impressive piece of inkjet engineering, but beyond the budget of most home users.

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The new PIXMA iX6850 offers many of the great features of the iP8750 big brother at a more affordable price, however. The fact that is can also print A3+ sheets does make this unit large by default, but at 584 x 310 x 159mm it's one of the smallest designs I've seen with large format printing capability.

However, as it also needs 33cm in the output direction and another 16cm behind for the paper feed, so be prepared to sacrifice desk space when the printer is needed.

Thankfully it doesn't need to be close to your PC, as along with USB Canon also gave it both Ethernet and wireless connectivity. The latter also supports Apple Air Print and Google Cloud Print for direct tablet or phone output. Print quality, as I've attested before, is excellent on Canon's 9600 x 2400 dpi print heads and single picolitre delivery system.

It's also rapid, spitting out a10x 15cm print in just 36 seconds. So what differentiates this from the professional Canon PIXMA designs, then? Well, this is only a five ink system, so there is no grey ink for B&W photo printing. Balancing that omission, the five provided inks (C,Y,M,K and Pigment Black) are the same codes as for the six cartridge designs, and colours come in XL capacities for those who use their printers often. That's a major selling point for office use, and it also makes the cost of ink less painful for regular home users.

They even offer a Pigment Black XXL cart that is rated for 1,000 pages at standard text coverage, working out at less than 2p a page. Laser printing is still cheaper, but that cost is far from terrible. I'm also rather pleased they included an Ethernet port. Wi-Fi is fine, but in a busy office I'd much prefer a wired connection, especially if you want to track who printed most through a shared printer server.

Having covered what's included, I also need to mention the things that got left out, some of which I'd like to have seen included. As an office printer not having a paper tray does seem an odd omission, but in keeping the footprint small they omitted it. As they did also with a CD/DVD tray and a SDI MMC card slot, neither of which made it into this design. The card slot I can live without, and CD printing is mostly a home user requirement.

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The only real problem I encountered with was getting the networking options to function as advertised. To resolve this I was forced to configure using USB, though after that it worked flawlessly networked.

The Canon PIXMA iX6850 delivers on the promise of A3+ printing without breaking the bank, and for those who occasionally proof graphics or photos it's a decent choice.