Canon Pixma MP600 review

18 Jan 2007

A well-built machine with great print quality. The scanner is sufficient for everything but photo work

Price when reviewed 
96
5

We've come to expect good things from modern inkjets - even sub-£100 machines can be capable of labs-quality photos, and some multifunction versions even have built-in scanners that can rival their standalone competitors. Immediate standout features here include the luxurious 2.5in colour screen, accompanied by an iPod-like jog wheel for scrolling through the onscreen menus - it makes navigating the MP600's already intuitive menus even easier.

Print quality is superb - you need to hold prints from the MP600 just inches from your face to be able to spot the slightest hint of grain, and all our tests produced excellent colours and skin tones. The only bugbear is speed - 6 x 4in prints emerge at a rate of one every 53 seconds, so if you print your photos in batches you could find yourself sitting around for a while.

The MP600 shares a print engine with the Pixma iP5200R (see issue 138, p132), and our tests revealed that it wastes quite a lot of ink when cleaning its printing heads, which means you'll be paying over the odds if you only print 6 x 4in prints occasionally. Canon's own figures show a final cost per page of around 10p per print. Default mode produced very poor results, though, with our photos losing all of the vibrancy we saw in best quality mode, with skin tones taking on a distinct red hue. For mixed text and graphics documents (again at default settings), Canon's own page yield quotes produce a final cost per page of just less than 6p per page. Canon doesn't publish the page yield of a mono document with 5% coverage.

The MP600 isn't particularly quick in everyday use. It printed a 50-page draft-quality document at a rate of 13 pages per minute and the output was legible, if a little too light. Using the MP600's normal printing settings produced a document remarkable for its laser-like quality, but speeds dropped to 4ppm, which means our 50-page document took well over ten minutes to finish.

The scanner's optical resolution is 2,400 x 4,800dpi and it proved fast in our tests, producing an image preview in just 13 seconds; that's faster than the AListed Epson Perfection V350 Photo. Scanning a 6 x 4in photo at 300dpi completed in just 14 seconds, and the longest we were drumming our fingers was 2mins 13secs, the time it took to scan a 6 x 4in photo at 1,200dpi. Image quality is lacklustre and, in spite of giving plenty of detail and reasonably accurate colour rendition, there's a notable lack of vibrancy.

But there are plenty of features that elevate the MP600 above the pack, including a built-in duplexer, which, as long as you can stand even longer print times (we printed ten double-sided sheets in 4mins 51secs), is a great way of keeping paper usage efficient. The TWAIN scanning software is among the best you'll find, and image quality is fine for basic archiving purposes, but not for those looking to permanently archive treasured prints.

The printer itself is hamstrung a little by being fairly expensive to run, but when mono and colour prints - on both uncoated and Canon's top-quality PR101 photo paper - print so beautifully, it's difficult to imagine many people having complaints, especially considering the MP600's price.