Colour laser printers may be falling as dramatically in price as they are rising in colour quality, but nobody should be counting out the humble inkjet just yet. At least, not while the technology is available for so little. These inkjets clearly target the lower end of the market, with the more expensive of the two costing just £43.

The picture, scores and specifications to the right are for the Canon iP2500. Click here for the iP1800's details.

There are very few technical innovations in today's inkjet market and both of these printers offer maximum resolutions of 4,800x1,200dpi. They connect through a USB 2.0 interface and both have the same simple but extremely straightforward installation routine - even down to an almost identical software bundle. However, the iP2500 comes with an interesting Creative CD and a decent selection of photo paper, so it's well worth the extra £5.

However, start to print off a test sheet and you'll instantly see one of the most significant compromises on these models - they don't have an output tray. But then, the output trays on such cheap inkjets tend to be flimsy in any case. All you really need do is ensure you have enough desk space in front of the printer.

The highest quality modes of these printers prove that low price tags don't have to amount to shoddy print quality. The results are fizzing with colour and depth. What you will need, though, is patience - and lots of it. With speeds of half a page per minute, you won't want to use them for large print loads. Of course, you can get results far more quickly, and in our real-world testing the iP1800 and iP2500 were able to print full colour images at the rate of 4.6ppm (pages per minute). These prints were rather light and unimpressive, although the middle mode allows for a higher level of picture at decent rates of 1.3 and 1.4ppm respectively.

Both printers work surprisingly well for text and standard mode produces dark and reasonably crisp text at rates of 6.6 and 6.7ppm respectively. They don't match up to the sizzling output generated by high-end HPs, for instance, but considering the price these printers are capable of good results.

Unsurprisingly, running costs are steep. However, neither printer is excessive at colour printing - setting you back 5.5p per page. Mono costs are more expensive, as 4p for a sheet of black text is poor value.

Canon iP2500: Specs

  • Canon iP2500: Max res 4,800x1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=22ppm C=16ppm, actual B=9.3ppm C=4.6ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • Ink costs B=£15 C=£17
  • print life (pages) B=355 C=308
  • 1-year warranty
  • 442x237x152mm
  • 3.3kg
  • Canon iP2500: Max res 4,800x1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=22ppm C=16ppm, actual B=9.3ppm C=4.6ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • Ink costs B=£15 C=£17
  • print life (pages) B=355 C=308
  • 1-year warranty
  • 442x237x152mm
  • 3.3kg

OUR VERDICT

Neither of these printers is a showstopper, and if your budget will stretch to £60 or £70 you should look for something a little faster. However, if you have time to spare, you can coax surprisingly high-quality prints from them. As a cheap model for occasional use, or to sit next to a mono laser, either of these would be excellent buys.

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