Canon has always had an eye for design and, in that respect, the Pixma MP560 doesn't disappoint. At rest, this multi-function inkjet printer, with a scanner, two paper-input trays and an integrated duplexer, is a sleek black and silver box. At work, it's a printing hub, with a flip-up screen and iPod-esque rotating controller. Priced at around £110 online, you get plenty of printer for your money, with crisp results delivered at respectable speeds, as well as built-in Wi-Fi networking capability.
To get a high review score, a printer has to perform well whatever you throw at it, and, on the whole, the MP560 does. Even at the 'fast' setting (Canon's term for 'draft'), plain text is sharp and unspattered. It's slightly greyer than we'd like, but bumping up the quality to 'standard' solves this, while the 'high' setting delivers truly laser-like output.
At none of the settings are pages delivered at breakneck speed. Our ten-page test sample appeared in 1 minute and 12 seconds at the fast setting, 1 minute and 29 seconds at standard, and 6 minutes and 44 seconds at high. That translates to 8.3, 6.7 and 1.5 pages per minute respectively, all of which are roughly what we'd expect for this class of device. Duplex performance, however, is impressive indeed, with the MP560 waiting just 4 seconds for the ink to dry before drawing the page back into its body and turning it over to print on the back. The HP Photosmart Premium C309g, by comparison, waited a full 20 seconds before turning over.
The MP560 excelled itself when we switched to mixed business output, combining text and simple graphics. White text on a black background is legible down to 4 points at all quality settings, and blocks of solid black are dense and satisfying at both the standard and high settings. They're best described as 'fair' at the fast setting, but, with our complex test page produced in just 17 seconds, the overall results are commendable. Colours are bright and vibrant and we had no problems printing black text on coloured backgrounds. You could rightly expect some bleeding of the black into the lighter colours as the paper becomes saturated, but the MP560 manages to avoid this at all quality levels.
There are noticeable differences between the fineness of the print at all three levels, with a coarse grain in blocks of solid colour printed using the fast setting, and super-smooth tones at the high setting. At all settings, however, the MP560 performed well in our greyscale-differentiation test, tasked with printing a strip of 21 similar tones on a scale between white and black, with just 5 per cent difference between each one. At all levels, there was clear differentiation as far as 90 per cent, with the final three tones printed as a solid block. We frequently see this when testing inkjet printers, and so it doesn't give any great cause for concern in the MP560's case.
Photo reproduction is first-class, with deep, satisfying blacks in areas of strong shadow, such as night-time skies, and vibrant primary colours produced with our collection of test images. Using Canon's own photo paper, transitions between similar shades demonstrate well-handled gradations, making for realistic skies, and, even in dark areas, such as the undersides of foliage in areas of dense cover, we could make out subtle changes in illumination. Furthermore, the half-tone is so fine that our results looked like lab-printed photos.
The Canon Pixma MP560 is a feature-packed all-in-one printer. The only thing it's missing is a fax. It's no slouch when it comes to maintaining high standards either, producing some truly impressive results in our tests. Despite this, Canon has kept the price down to a reasonable level. The fact that you won't be shy to leave it out on display when your friends visit is a bonus.
Edited by Charles Kloet