ProsVery compact; good photo quality; the cost of ink is ~50x lower than standard inkjets
ConsMore work to set up than most printers; very limited features for the price
We typically don't have a section on assembly for printers, but the Megatank design is different enough that we feel readers might like to know exactly what's entailed in setup, and whether it should be a cause for concern. The short answer is that there's really nothing to worry about, despite the bold warnings in the manual about the potential for spillage of ink that cannot be washed out of clothing, carpeting, or really anything at all! As you can see in the accompanying photo, you do indeed need to pour large bottles of liquid ink into the printer - one bottle for each of the four colors - so there is some potential for an accident. But if you prepare your work area and make sure not to be distracted while filling the tanks, there's really not much cause for concern. It's no harder than refilling a soap dispenser, and there's zero chance of overfilling, given that the bottles hold exactly enough to fill the tanks and no more.
The oddest part about the setup is that you actually have to individually unwrap and install the two ink "cartridges," shown below, which as far as we can tell are just vestiges of the standard inkjet design this model is based on. These cartridges are simply empty plastic housings that fill with ink during initialization, and don't contain any actual ink. Our hunch is that Canon has been forced to put users through this rigmarole simply because their cartridges and printers roll off of different assembly lines. In the future, we fully expect that Megatank models will have these cartridges built into the printers from the factory.
In this next photo, you can see where you install the two cartridges, namely in the printhead assembly. You can also see the runs of tubing that have been added to allow ink to be pumped from the four ink tanks in the front of the printer to the empty cartridges. We'd guess that this complicated arrangement may limit the maximum print speed of the printer, hence the reasons it's rated as slower than ever Canon's cheapest traditional inkjet printer. The added components no doubt also add some manufacturing cost, meaning the extra $200 or so that the G3200 costs versus a similar cartridge-style printer represents more than the loss Canon took selling its $45 model.
After the assembly of the printer as complete, we then braced ourselves for the connection process. Luckily, even choosing a direct WiFi connection (the printer does not come with a USB cable, and we didn't test it with one), connecting the printer only took about two minutes. Because the printer has no display, all of this must be done from the host device, and to set up the G3200 with a smartphone or tablet, you'll need to download Canon's printer app. More sophisticated inkjets with built-in screens allow you to connect to a wireless network directly from the printer.
Overall, performance was good, but not fantastic. Printing a single page of mixed text and graphics took 25 seconds, and this didn't include the 20-second "warm-up" time to prepare the inkjets, which will probably be required whenever starting the first print job for the day. Printing a borderless 4" x 6" photo in high-quality mode took 1 minutes and 48 seconds, while printing an 8" x 10" photo in high-quality mode took 3 minutes and 37 seconds.
Text quality was up to par with other inkjets we've tested, which is to say it looks good until you get up close, when you start to see the rough edges around letters that you wouldn't see with a laser printer. It's certainly good enough for everyday documents, and showed no signs of skipping or jitter in the text. Home users should be more than happy with it. We've included a close-up photo of the printed page here. Click the image to get a magnified view.
Photos looked great, and were definitely on part with most $100-$200 traditional inkjet printers we've tested. The only time we've seen better was with Canon's high-end photo printers that use 5 or 6 ink cartridges, but of course, those cost an arm and a leg to keep in operation!
By the way, while we didn't test it extensively, Canon's software suite is quite comprehensive, and while this software has in the past been a portal for Canon to issue constant reminders to buy ink, that's obviously not going to be its prime purpose here. Instead, users will get to focus on the easy-to-use photo printing application, as well as Canon's useful photo cataloging software called "My Image Garden".
The Canon G3200 is the perfect printer for any household or small business looking to print large quantities of high-quality color graphics or photos, as long as features like duplexing, fancy paper handling, or auto-duplexing aren't required. It's a barebones printer, but it comes without any gotchas other than the one you'll know about right from the start: the price. Yes, this will scare off plenty of would-be buyers drawnn to all the cheaper, fancier printers sitting next to it on store shelves, but for savvy shoppers who have grown tired of inkjet cartridge musical chairs, the G3200 offers tremendous peace of mind.
The G3200 debuted in June 2017 at an MSRP of $299.99, but is available for $249.99 shipped from Amazon, as of our publication date. It comes with four full-size bottles of ink, and refills of cyan, yellow, magenta, and black are available for between $12 and $18 each. They are good for 6,000-7,000 pages each, which should be music to the ears of anyone used to typical inkjet cartridges, which cost $20-$25 and offer just a few hundred prints before they dry up (Canon refuses to even rate them on a page output basis anymore). That makes the running cost of the G3200 a minimum of 50x lower than a standard inkjet, and means that after about 500 prints, you will have already saved money versus a comparable standard inkjet!
For now, the G3200 earns a recommendation based on being among the least expensive tank-based printer on the market. That being said, Epson is proving to be a bit more aggressive in pricing its competiting printers, with the Epson Expression ET-2650 offering a color touchscreen and similar page output ratings at the same price.