Canon's Pixma G1220, though no speedster, prints in top quality and delivers some of the lowest running costs available. It's a fine photo-printing value for families and home offices with modest output needs. US Street Price$179.99
- Superb print quality, especially for photos
- Decent software bundle
- Low running costs
- Up to 18,000 pages' worth of black ink in the box
- Last decade's control panel
- No wireless connectivity
- No scanner function
- Slow printing
A long-overdue upgrade to the Canon Pixma G1200 we reviewed four years ago, the Pixma G1220 MegaTank Inkjet Printer ($179.99) is an odd bird among single-function or print-only inkjets. Being a MegaTank bulk-ink model—a Canon printer that, like Epson’s EcoTank machines, gets its ink not from cartridges but reservoirs filled from bottles—makes it distinctive. What makes it attractive? Its running costs are among the lowest in the business, and its price is about a third lower than the 2017 version’s. Versus the avalanche of entry-level multifunction printers out there, the G1220 is short on features and a slow churner, so it’s not for everybody. But if all you need is to print lots of high-quality photos and the occasional business document or homework assignment, over time this Pixma is one of the least expensive ways to go.
Small and Straightforward
A single-function printer is by design simple to operate: While it supports several types and sizes of paper, all it does is print. There’s no scanner for making copies or digitizing documents, hence there’s no need for an automatic document feeder (ADF), reducing the device’s size versus an all-in-one (AIO) machine.
The Pixma G1220 measures 5.4 by 17.6 by 13 inches (HWD) with its trays closed, and it weighs a lean 10.6 pounds. That’s the same size as, but about a pound lighter than, its G1200 predecessor, and much smaller and lighter than the semi-portable Editors’ Choice award-winning HP Tango X. Epson’s dedicated consumer-grade photo printer, the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wide-Format Inkjet Printer (another PCMag favorite), is much larger, as it can accommodate paper up to 13 by 19 inches.
Paper handling consists of one 100-sheet drawer that doubles as a 20-sheet premium photo paper tray when needed. By comparison, HP’s Tango X holds only 50 sheets, and Epson’s XP-15000 holds up to 250.
Print-only machines also don’t require much by way of a control panel. As you can see in the image below, the G1220 has only a handful of buttons and status indicators…
If you noticed the lack of Wi-Fi or wireless network controls, that’s because the G1220 doesn’t support Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, or Bluetooth. In fact, its only connectivity option is USB (bring your own cable), meaning that you can connect a single Windows or macOS laptop or desktop but no handheld devices.
Bundled Software and Specialty Papers
The somewhat meager software bundle consists of the Pixma G1220 driver, Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint Editor, and PosterArtist Lite. Easy-PhotoPrint Editor is, as you could guess, an image-editing and -enhancement program that helps you prepare photos for printing. You can do things like resize, crop, and apply correction and enhancement filters such as sharpening or red-eye removal. PosterArtist Lite is also just what it sounds like, an app for creating posters and other photo arrangements.
You can further embellish your images by printing them on specialty papers such as 5-inch-square glossy, double-sided matte paper, Canon magnetic and restickable photo paper, or iron-on transfers. (These and other specialty media are available at Canon’s online shop.)
Slow Document Pages and Fast Snapshots
Canon rates the G1220 at 9.1 pages per minute (ppm) for black and 5ppm for color. If you print a lot of long documents or large photos, these speeds soon get tedious. It’s also important to point out that this Pixma doesn’t support automatic two-sided printing. To print duplex pages, you’ll need to turn the stack over manually. I ran my tests over a USB connection from our Intel Core i5 PC running Windows 10 Pro. (See more about how we test printers.)
For our first test, I clocked the Pixma as it printed our 12-page Microsoft Word document. The G1220 averaged 8.9ppm, just under its rated speed. This result is about average among the printers mentioned here so far; Epson’s XP-15000, for example, managed 7.9ppm while the HP Tango X won with 9.6ppm.
Next, I timed the G1220 as it printed our colorful and complex business documents consisting of Adobe Acrobat PDFs containing business graphics and typefaces of varying sizes and colors, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with assorted charts and graphs, and PowerPoint handouts including colorful full-page business graphics. Then I combined those results with the text document times and came up with an average score of 5.2ppm.
This, too, is about average for printers in this class, though the Tango trailed with a miserable 1.8ppm. To finish testing, I timed the G1220 as it printed two of our colorful and detailed 4-by-6-inch snapshots. The average print time was 52 seconds per photo, which isn’t quick but is respectable. (The Tango took 59 seconds.)
There are two things you can be sure of with most Canon Pixmas: They print well, and they print slowly. The good news is that the G1220’s output is worth waiting for, especially photos. Images print with better-than-acceptable detail and accurate, brilliant color. The Canon can print borderless photos up to letter size (8.5 by 11 inches).
The G1220 also did a decent job with our business documents, though the full-page graphics were almost too much for it; it printed them very slowly, too. But entry-level inkjets weren’t really designed to print stacks of full-page handouts.
Pixmas typically print legible, good-looking text with attractive spacing and well-shaped characters, and this one is no exception. The G1220’s print quality almost makes up for its sluggishness—almost.
Printing for Pennies
More than anything else, the Pixma G1220’s main attraction is its extremely low running costs—about 0.3 cent per page for monochrome and 0.8 cent for color. And Canon has sweetened the deal by throwing in two additional 170ml black ink bottles, for an in-the-box total of roughly 1,800 black pages. According to Canon, the three 70ml color bottles (cyan, magenta, and yellow) are good for 7,700 prints.
Those numbers more or less match those of most Canon MegaTank, Epson EcoTank, and HP Smart Tank Plus printers (though EcoTank color pages cost 0.9 cent). But Epson is offering two years’ worth of ink with some EcoTank machines, which is by far the best value.
To be sure, print-only machines are rare, especially at the entry level, but if each month you print a few hundred photos and only the occasional document, the Pixma G1220 is relatively inexpensive to buy and use. When you run out of ink, a set of three 70ml color bottles costs only $12.99 and a 170ml black bottle runs $17.99. Overall, this is a straightforward machine that prints slowly but at an exceptionally low cost per page. The Pixma G1220 offers a sensible way to print stacks of photos and other pages for you and your family—if you and yours can be patient.