capsule review

Canon Pixma MP960

At a Glance

The Canon Pixma MP960 is similar to the MP950 model. The MP960 features the same stunning 3.5-inch color LCD, but the new iPod-like Easy-Scroll Wheel makes navigating the menus and previewing images on screen quick and easy. The $399 price tag (as of 10/25/06) seems a little steep compared to other models--such as the $200 Canon Pixma MP600 we also tested this month--considering that the main difference is the MP960's addition of film scanning capabilities.

You can scan documents up to letter-size from the glass platen, and a backlight built into the cover lets you scan film. The film holders accommodate up to 12 negatives or 8 slides, and tuck away neatly in the lid when not in use. You can preview images on the screen and perform simple edits, such as red-eye removal and cropping. Two media slots behind a door on the front panel accept most formats, but you'll need a third-party USB adapter to read xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick Duo, and Mini SD Card formats.

You can print directly from most digital cameras through the PictBridge port, which also accepts an optional $80 Bluetooth adapter for printing from suitably equipped camera phones and PDAs; but unlike with many photo printers, you can't print from images stored on a USB flash drive. An IrDA port can receive and print photos beamed from handheld devices that support infrared communication.

Given the MP960's focus on photography, it's not surprising that it lacks office features such as a built-in fax and an automatic document feeder. Nonetheless, it does offer excellent paper capacity. The dual paper trays each hold up to 150 sheets. The built-in duplexer enables double-sided printing, pausing briefly for the first side of the paper to dry before printing on the reverse. Canon even sells double-sided photo paper that makes for nice album pages.

Photo enthusiasts will like that the MP960 uses seven individual ink cartridges; in addition to the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow inks, you get light cyan and light magenta, and both dye and pigment blacks. The cartridges have red LEDs that flash when the ink runs low.

Photo prints on glossy paper looked spectacular. Our judges praised the sharp detail, smooth gradations, vivid colors, and natural skin tones. Our judges noticed a few faults in the MP960's prints on plain paper, however. Text characters had fuzzy edges, and the solid areas of large fonts were patchy. Our challenging line-art sample showed some wide horizontal banding and diagonal interference patterns in blocks of closely spaced lines. With the exception of some graininess, photos printed on plain paper stood up well for an inkjet printer, with good contrast and shadow detail.

Like many of the inkjet MFPs we've tested recently, the MP960 produced acceptable scans, but failed to score top marks. As a photocopier, however, the unit delivered very good reproductions of both text and photos.

The MP960 prints very quickly: Text pages arrived at 11.7 pages per minute, compared to the average of 8 ppm; photos printed on plain paper at 3.1 ppm, slightly above the average. Our 5-by-7-inch test photo printed in just 31 seconds, versus the test group's average of almost 1 minute. The MP960 scanned very quickly as well, turning in the fastest time for five of the six scan tests we perform--completing our 4-by-5-inch photo at 100 dots per inch in just 6.2 seconds (the average was 8.9 seconds). Copying speeds were a more moderate 3.6 ppm.

With many photo-centric features such as film scanning, the easy-to-use Canon Pixma MP960 will appeal to photographers who work with both film and digital cameras. It performs most tasks quickly and makes superb photo prints.

Paul Jasper

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating
Related:
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.