Sunday, August 31, 2008

Canon has new line-up for the home

Canon has new line-up for the home

Faster printers and scanners, new features


Among the new line-up from Canon, the PIXMA Photo iP 2680.

TOKYO : This month Canon introduced a broad range of printers and scanners for home and small office users offering enhanced features that include wireless connectivity with improved security, "photo lab quality" output, a grey ink cartridge for better black and white photographs, plus improved performance and ease of use.

In all, 13 products have been launched - seven Pixma multi-function devices (MFDs), three Pixma inkjet printers and three scanners, with models either available now or early next month.

At the heart of the Pixma inkjet printers is Canon's full photo-lithography inkjet nozzle engineering technology that Canon developed in-house and which can deliver ink droplets in sizes down to one picolitre, with standard format printers having up to 7,680 nozzles.

This delivers prints with photo lab quality and long life thanks to Canon's recently-introduced Chromalife100+ dye-based ink and enhanced consumables, according to Canon's GM for inkjet marketing, Takao Hada.

He and other Canon executives announced the new models to reporters from Southeast Asia at Canon's Tokyo headquarters earlier this month. Canon unveiled new MFDs and inkjet printers with innovations including a grey ink cartridge for improved monochrome output and "auto photo fix," featuring face detection which automatically analyses and categorises scenes in photographs to optimise the appearance of prints.

There is also now a quick start mode, providing instantaneous operation when a printer is switched on, potentially saving energy, and improved functionality with an easy-to-use scroll wheel and duplex printing capabilities in some models.

Two of the premium MFDs are also capable of 802.11 wireless connectivity that supports WEP and WPA security, while Wi-Fi protected set-up (WPS) is supported.

The Canon Pixma MP988 and Pixma MP628, formally announced yesterday, can also be shared over a wireless LAN, according to Hada.

All the new inkjet models embody a new design philosophy which, according to Yoshinori Inukai, Canon Design Centre's assistant general manager, would mean that "you can tell it's a Pixma from 10 metres away" and they were designed to be "so elegant that they look to be worth more than their price."

The design of the new Pixmas features high-glossy piano black and matte silver finishes in an "elegant cube" format with rounded corners and "sweeping sidelines," Inukai said, noting that the new Pixmas were designed to be clutter free, with hidden memory card and access slots and user-friendly controls.

Canon is introducing four premium Pixma Photo MFDs, with the flagship Pixma MP988 having a CCD sensor being capable of 4,800 by 9,600dpi scans, with the ability to scan 35mm slides and negatives. This model also offers wireless connectivity and features a sixth ink tank with grey ink.

Like the other three premium MFDs also introduced yesterday, the MP628, MP638 and MP545, the MP988 can do automatic duplex printing while supporting 4-in-1 and 2-in-1 printing layouts, offering maximum print resolutions of 9,600 by 2,400dpi.

The four premium MFDs have ink drops as small as one picolitre and can deliver colour A4 prints at speeds of up to 21ppm while taking 20 seconds for a 4 by 6in. colour photograph. The MP638 also features automatic duplex printing and CD/DVD printing.

In the category of affordable Pixma Photo MFDs, Canon is also introducing three models, the MP245, MP486 and MP198 offering 4,800 by 1,200dpi printing, with print speeds up to 20ppm for monochrome and 16ppm for colour, or 45 seconds for a 4 by 6in. colour photograph, while the scanning resolution for these models ranges from 600 by 1,200dpi for the MP198 up to 2,400 by 4,800 with the MP486.

Canon's photo printers deliver on Canon's "home photo lab" vision, according to Canon Singapore consumer imaging group vice-president Melvyn Ho, with three new models, the Pixma iP2680, iP4680 and iP1980.

These offer print resolutions from 4,800 by 1,200dpi up to 9,600 by 2,400dpi and print speeds of up to 21ppm for colour output, taking as little as 20 seconds to deliver a 4 by 6in. colour print. The iP4680 and iP3680 models, introduced yesterday, have inkjet nozzles with a minimum size of one picolitre and five ink tanks.

Asked whether the designation "Photo Pixma" for the printers and MFDs might dissuade some buyers who did not print many photographs, Ho said that this possibility had been discussed internally before the latest announcements, but that Canon felt that one of its strengths lay in its being a provider of cameras and scanners as input devices. This was part of Canon's "DNA" and differentiated the company from competitors such as Epson and HP, he added.

Discussing ink consumption, Ho noted that Canon's document output was efficient and attractive while the use of ink had been lower than customers' expectations, noting that ink consumption by Canon and HP was very similar, while for Epson it was slightly higher.

Canon would embrace an emerging new ISO standard that would soon be announced that would measure inkjet consumption on plain paper, he added.

The company also introduced three scanners earlier this month that feature an auto-scan mode, recognising different types of documents and scanning them accurately with the press of a button. The CanoScan 5600F has a CCD sensor along with high-brightness white LED technology that provides an instant start-up. The other two models, the slim-line LiDE 200 and LiDE 100 have CIS sensors and three-colour LED light source.

The 5600F can scan 35mm film strips or slides and can image an A4 colour image at 300dpi in 11 seconds, compared to 14 seconds for th LiDE 200 and 24 seconds for the LiDE 100.

Canon is the leader in Thailand for both printers and MFDs, having a 43 per cent market share for single-function printers and 33 per cent for MFDs. The company has seen strong growth in MFDs across the region, with Canon's own sales projected to be up by an estimated 146 per cent in Thailand over 2007 revenues, whereas sales of single function printers here were up by 43 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC.

Building on this leadership, Canon's mission across the region was "to sustain a strong No. 1 market share in single-function printers and to capture the No. 1 position for MFDs," according to Ho, who noted that while the sale of MFDs in Thailand greatly exceeded that of single-function printers, in Indonesia 80 per cent of all sales were printers. Region-wide, the predictions are that the sale of MFDs would exceed single-function printers in 2010.

Among Canon's strategies to reach out to customers were its original ink centres, here in Thailand as well as in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India, where only original Canon ink was sold, as well as Canon-to-Canon shops that sold Canon-only goods: Cameras, in addition to printers and scanners.

There are also customer service centres, a Canon portal offering online registration, training at Canon Digital Labs and showrooms. The 13 new products were aimed at home and small office customers and they augment several printers introduced earlier this year for business users, such as the MX series, while a few more would be introduced in the autumn, according to Ho.

One of these models, the MX7600, introduced Pigment Reaction technology (PgR), a breakthrough technology for plain paper printing that pre-treats the media with a clear layer ahead of the ink, effectively turning plain paper into coated media, which Canon claims "delivers laser-quality colour documents and superb photos on plain paper," along with added benefits of water fastness, anti-curling, higher intensity images as well as being smudge resistant.

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