Removing the unit from the packaging reveals a black and silver box with rounded corners measuring 450 x 365 x 160mm (W x D x H). Power and USB connections are located at the rear of the device, as is a secondary paper input option giving you the opportunity to have two different types of paper loaded ready for printing. The main paper input is via a tray that slots into the front of the unit. Both paper inputs are rated as being able to hold 150 sheets of paper. Paper output is at the front of the box with a drop down flap that doubles as a paper support feature. This drop down flap can be manually released or automatically when the MP560 is about to begin a print operation – a nice feature that is much appreciated if you have a habit of forgetting to lower the flap yourself.
Located on the right front of the box, just above the PictBridge slot, is a flap that conceals memory card slots with support for all the common formats. Positioned above the memory card compartment is a lift-up flap that reveals the assorted controls and navigation wheel plus a 5cm TFT display. You do need to be aware that the initial menu options of Copy, Memory Card, Easy Photo Reprint, Settings, Photo Index Sheet and Scans rotate as a carousel while lower levels of the menu take the up and down selection method. Sitting on top of the printer unit is the A4 2400dpi flatbed scanner.
Setting up the MP560 is straightforward with an animated guide taking you through the various steps. I am unable to comment about installing the print head and the five (black, cyan, yellow, magenta and second black holding pigment ink) inkjet cartridges as the review unit arrived with the cartridges already installed. However I would not anticipate there being any problems with this procedure.
Although you can carry out a number of functions, such as printing direct from a camera or memory card and using the MP560 in the role of a photocopier (scan/print), for some features you will need to connect to a computer by installing the supplied software. Connection can be either by a USB lead for standalone use or wireless networking. Along with the necessary drivers, Canon’s software package includes a Solution Menu, Easy-PhotoPrint EX, My Printer Menu and on-screen documentation for both basic and advanced features. Using elements of the software you can print individual images or arrange several in various layouts; produce a calendar or photo album; plus carry out basic image editing.
Unlike some other printer manufacturers, Canon has adopted the ISO/IEC 24734 and 24735 speed measurement tests to give a more realistic real-world rating for this model. As a result Canon’s quoted print speeds of 9.2 mono and 6.0 colour might seem low compared to some competitive products. While the MP560 would not be classified as a speed beast, its performance is reasonable with the emphasis being on print quality. My personal tests using a 101-word document produced a figure of 20ppm with the Fast print settings. This number dropped to 16ppm on standard and then came crashing down to 4ppm on the High setting. Quality was fine for internal use with Fast, with Standard being appropriate for personal communication and High producing a quality you would normally expect from a laser.
Adding a full colour image to the text produced speeds of 6, 5, and 1ppm for the various settings. An A4 colour scan and print required 30 seconds. As well as general purpose printing, the MP560 has photo printing capabilities. A borderless 10 x 15cm image was produced in 38 seconds while a full A4 print took 1 minute 51 seconds to complete. Image quality was of a high standard when using Canon’s Platinum photo paper.
If lightning speed is not a major requirement, then the PIXMA MP560 will deliver high quality output for your printing needs. Canon has priced the PIXMA MP560 at £149. Standard inkjet cartridge refills are priced at £7.99 with the black pigment ink slightly higher. There is also available a Cyan, Magenta, Yellow multi-pack available for £21.99. You will need either Windows 2000 and later or Mac OS X 10.5.
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