In our tests, the unit’s performance was generally middling, but sometimes better. The unit printed plain text at a rate of 6.4 pages per minute; graphics averaged about 2.6 ppm. Its scanning speeds were the fastest among our test group, while its copying speed was average. On plain paper, black text and copies looked just slightly fuzzy, while line art and halftones looked detailed. Flesh tones appeared artificially pink on plain paper but improved on Canon’s own photo stock.
The Pixma MP560 has better paper handling than do most units in its price class. Automatic duplexing is standard. A 150-sheet, vertical-loading slot in the back of the printer accepts media ranging from 4-by-6-inch snapshot paper to legal stock. A second, front-loading drawer holds up to 150 sheets of letter-size paper only. The trays flex easily under pressure, but that’s my only quibble.
The silver and black chassis looks sleek while the printer is at rest; to use the machine, you just start opening doors. You flip up a door on the top right to reveal the 2-inch color LCD and the control panel, where intuitively labeled buttons surround a control wheel. As you rotate the wheel, menu items rotate on the LCD. Three media card slots are housed in a small compartment on the front right, and a PictBridge port sits below them. Bluetooth support is optional with a $50 add-on. USB and wireless connections are available, but not ethernet.
This model’s ink costs are lower than average–and are particularly affordable compared with the exorbitantly priced inks that come with the Epson Stylus NX515. The machine ships with a 350-page black cartridge, a 665-page photo-black cartridge, and cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges with yields that range from 470 to 505 pages. Replacement black costs $14.99 (4.3 cents per page), while the other colors cost $12.99 apiece or about 2.6 cents each per page. A four-color page costs 12.2 cents. The cartridge bay is located inside the printer, under the scanner unit; although the slots aren’t keyed by color, an LED will flash and an error message will appear on the control panel if you inadvertently slide a cartridge into the wrong slot.
The low price of the Canon Pixma MP560 comes with the trade-off of slow performance. If you can tolerate that, you’ll certainly enjoy the cheaper inks and plentiful features it offers compared with the competition.
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