Canon Pixma MP600
At a Glance
The Canon Pixma MP600 is a solid multipurpose device that combines a printer, scanner, and media card reader at a reasonable price of $200 (as of 10/25/06). It lacks a built-in fax, making it problematic for office use, and serious photographers will bemoan the fact that it doesn't scan film; however, the MP600 makes up for these missing features with good paper handling and fast, high-quality printing.
Each of the two paper trays can hold up to 150 sheets. The cassette in the base is well suited for plain paper, whereas the upright feeder at the rear is convenient for switching among different sizes of photo paper. The built-in duplexer lets you make two-sided prints. You can scan images up to letter size from the glass platen, but the scanner lacks an automatic document feeder for scanning larger sizes or several pages at once.
The control panel features Canon's new iPod-like Easy-Scroll Wheel. It works well with the flip-up 2.5-inch color LCD for navigating the menus and for printing images from a digital camera's memory card. Before printing an image, you can preview various editing changes, such as red-eye removal, cropping, and conversion to sepia or an antique color effect.
The two media slots sit behind a door on the right-front side of the unit. They accept most types of memory cards, but you'll need a third-party USB adapter to read xD-Picture, Memory Stick Duo, and Mini SD Card formats. The direct-print port lets you print directly from a PictBridge-equipped digital camera, using the camera's screen and controls. You can also plug Canon's $80 Bluetooth adapter into the direct-print port to allow printing from compatible handheld devices. An IrDA port lets you beam photos from camera phones and PDAs that have infrared transmitters. The MP600 doesn't support printing from USB flash drives, however.
Each of the printer's five ink cartridges incorporates a red LED that flashes when the ink runs low. In addition to the three primary colors, you get two black inks. The printer uses a dye-based ink on photo paper, but a pigment-based ink gives stronger and sharper darks on more-absorbent plain paper. In our print-quality tests, we saw very sharp and well-formed characters for an inkjet. Our line-art sample was also quite sharp, though we noticed some wide horizontal banding and diagonal interference patterns in closely spaced blocks of lines. Our photo samples on plain paper also looked good compared to the output of most inkjet printers, with smooth tones and decent contrast, but many of the colors were too bright. On photo paper, the MP600 excelled, producing beautifully sharp prints with smooth gradations--though skin tones looked a little artificially bronzed. As with most inkjet MFPs we've tested recently, the MP600 produced good-quality scans, but our judges failed to award it their highest marks.
This model was no slouch in our speed tests either, clocking the fastest printing times we've seen to date from an inkjet MFP. On plain paper, it spat out text pages at 11.9 pages per minute and graphics at 3.7 ppm. It printed our 5-by-7-inch test photo in just 26 seconds (the average was almost 1 minute). The MP600 didn't maintain the breakneck pace in our scanning tests, however, turning in a slower performance than most of the other inkjet MFPs we tested. Still, the slower scanning speed didn't seem to impact its copying speed, which was a very rapid 4.7 ppm versus the test-group average of 2.8 ppm.
The Canon Pixma MP600 is an excellent printer and a solid copier that delivers top-notch print quality at high speeds. If you don't need fax and can live without an automatic document feeder and film scanning, the MP600 is a solid choice for everything else it offers.