I run the very definition of a home office. I sit here in my converted garage, bashing out words, and doing a fair bit of printing and scanning – mainly for my sideline as a football club secretary. A few months ago, I bought a Canon Pixma TR8550, as my last Canon printer was on its last legs and I badly needed an auto-document feeder to make scanning large documents easier. Four months on, did I make the right decision?
Let’s deal with the main printer functions one by one.
Canon Pixma TR8550 review: scanning
I’ll start with the function that largely attracted me to this device in the first place – the scanner.
There are two scanning options with the TR8550: a regular flatbed scanner and an auto-document feeder (ADF) that sits on the top of the device, allowing you to feed in multi-page documents and get them scanned in one hit. At least, in theory.
I’ll point out at this stage that if you’re duplex scanning – scanning both sides of the paper in a document – you’ll need to manually refeed the pages back into the scanner. Not a massive hassle, but you’ll need to take care to get the orientation right, which isn’t brilliantly clear from the graphics on the printer’s little screen.
However, that’s not my biggest gripe with the auto-document feeder. My chief complaint is that it often swallows two pages at a time, meaning it effectively skips a page of the scan. No amount of fiddling with the paper guides that direct the paper into the scanner appear to stop this, and it’s hugely annoying because it means you have to start a scan job from scratch every time it does this.
I’d say one in four multi-page documents fed into the auto-document feeder skips a page. Consequently, I often find myself scanning multi-page documents manually, one at a time, which is the very definition of buying a dog and barking yourself.
It’s a shame the document feeder doesn’t behave itself more often, because the scanner is quick (around 20 seconds per page) and the quality is superb, whether you’re using the ADF or the flatbed. And I’m a big fan of Canon’s no-nonsense scanning utility, which does its job cleanly and then sods off out of the way, like good software should.
If anyone has any tips on how to get the TR8550’s ADF to behave, share them on the comments at the foot of the article and I’ll buy you a beer if they work.
Canon Pixma TR8550 review: printing
As far as the bread and butter job of printing goes, I have no complaints whatsoever. If you’re printing single-sided documents, the TR8550 rattles through them at a couple of seconds per page (assuming there are no big pictures on them).
If you want to print on both sides of the paper, as any polar-ice-cap-conscious consumer should, then it takes a lot longer – about four times as long once it’s spat out all the pages, sucked them back into the printer and spat them back out again. There’s no need for manual intervention this time, the printer does double-sided printing all by itself.
Text and graphics quality is spot on, with little dithering and sharp serifs on the tips of your fonts. Even though I’m a photographer, I’ve not tried printing any photos using proper photo paper with the TR8550 because nobody should – you’re much better off ordering prints online, both in terms of quality and cost.
Talking of cost, the TR8550 has a five-ink system. There’s the pigment blank ink that handles the bulk of the document printing, and four colours (magenta, yellow, cyan and a photo black). A set of inks ain’t cheap: the 580XXL black pigment costs £29.26 alone on Amazon, while the four colours cost another £57.39. That’s the thick end of £100 for a full set of inks, which is almost as much as the cost of the printer itself.
That said, the setup inks that came with the printer – which are rarely filled to the same level as the XL cartridges – are only just running out now. Given that I print somewhere between 20-50 pages per week, that’s not bad going. Still, if you’re printing a much higher volume of documents, I suspect you’ll find a laser printer much more economical.
Canon Pixma TR8550 review: extras
There are several extra features offered by this printer, although they are hit and miss.
Compatibility with cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox was a big draw for me, but it proved to be another false dawn. Both services seem to be snagged by two-factor authentication. Even when I enter confirmation codes into the printer or on my phone, the printer refuses to move past the two-factor screen for both services. I suspect switching off two-factor would rescue the situation, but why should I lower my security? It’s poor software developing on Canon’s part.
AirPrint support is a big bonus for an iPad owner like me, meaning I can print documents from my tablet without any worry whatsoever. Canon’s iOS app is pretty smooth, too.
There’s a fax facility, but this is 2019, and so consequently I’ve used it about as much as my VHS video collection.
One final feature that I do really like is the eco-friendly power mode. You can set the printer to power itself off after 15 minutes of inactivity, and it automatically powers back up when you send a print job. That – combined with the duplex printing – makes me feel marginally less guilty every time I look the kids in the eye.
Canon Pixma TR8550 verdict
All told, I’m pretty happy with the Canon Pixma TR8550 – but its irritating flaws prevent me from giving it the wholehearted recommendation that a BTQ Buy Now reward conveys.
The erratic auto-document feeder is a big disappointment, often failing to save me any time whatsoever. The failure to log in to cloud services is another black mark. It’s a few foibles short of greatness, but aren’t we all, darling?
Canon Pixma TR8550 review 99.99
A very decent home office all-in-one that’s let down by a couple of irritating flaws
- Fast, high-quality prints
- Great scanning performance
- Eco mode saves electricity
- Finicky auto-document feeder
- Won’t log in to supposedly compatible cloud services
- Ink costs are steep