Canon Pixma iP2600 Inkjet Printer
At a Glance
You find few true bargains among low-cost color inkjets--such products always involve trade-offs. But Canon's Pixma iP2600 color inkjet printer has the goods where it counts, producing surprisingly decent print quality, even on plain paper. As a result, this supercheap printer's mediocre speed may be less of an issue for many buyers. Another reason to like the iP2600: Canon's better-than-average performance in our recent Reliability and Service survey.
How mediocre was its output speed? In our tests, the Pixma iP2600 printed text on plain paper at a rate of 8.5 pages per minute--slower than both the Epson Stylus C120 and the Lexmark Z2420 Wireless. Its print speeds for color graphics and photos ranged from average to worse, but the actual printouts were worth the wait. Text samples looked deep-black and pretty crisp. Color images printed on plain paper appeared vivid, maybe even a bit overdone. On Canon's own photo paper, the same images improved markedly and were smooth, detailed, and natural.
The printer's simple, boxy design includes a 150-sheet rear input area and a 150-sheet front output tray. Both are surprisingly roomy, but the output tray--a foldout front panel with a narrow pivoting extension--is also disappointingly flimsy. On-screen prompts walk you through manual duplexing (two-sided printing). The ink cartridges are fairly easy to replace, and a helpful illustration sits above the bays.
The iP2600's control panel, however, is sparse and hard to decipher. It consists of two buttons with symbolic labels and integrated LEDs that turn on, turn off, or flash to communicate the printer's status. Such secret-code-like designs are typical among low-cost printers; apparently, making them easier to use costs too much.
The printer ships with standard-size black and tricolor cartridges; higher-yield versions are also available. Canon calculates the page yields based on a suite of standard documents with a mix of text and graphics. Even with the higher-yield cartridges, such a document costs at least 14 cents in ink alone (6.1 cents for black, 8.2 cents total for all three colors) and drains the cartridges within 300 pages or so. Simpler documents will use less ink.
Canon bundles useful software with the Pixma iP2600. The apps include a centralized interface for accessing the user guide and other support; an on-screen status monitor where you can also check printer settings; and Easy-PhotoPrint EX for editing and manipulating photos.
The Canon Pixma iP2600 is a cheap printer that many people could live with happily. It doesn't do much other than print well on both plain and special papers, but for this little money, tolerating its poky speed is worthwhile.