With the release of the PIXMA MP600, Canon demonstrates there’s still innovation to be seen in the design of all-in-one devices. New ideas, particularly in the design of the machine's operating system and the positioning of its control panel, make it an interesting test subject.
This is a neat, square-cut machine, a second-generation take on the ‘lacquer box’ look of recent Canon all-in-ones. It also uses the dual paper source approach of recent multi-function devices, where you can feed paper from a near-vertical hopper at the rear or from a cassette sliding in under the machine. Either source can be set up for a variety of paper sizes, so you can choose which one to feed plain paper from and which to use for photo blanks or letterheads. There’s also a CD/DVD carrier, which feeds from the front, so you can directly print coated disc blanks.
The control panel for the PIXMA MP600 is set into the lid of the flatbed scanner, a novel approach and one which reduces the machine’s desktop footprint. Fold up the 61mm LCD display and you have a comprehensive set of controls beneath, including a click-dial which works with the on-screen menuing - more on this in a minute.
The flatbed scanner glass is on a slight slope towards the front of the machine, which helps when loading originals, as they slide naturally to its front edge. To the right of the fold-down output tray, a small cover reveals two memory card slots, which combine to take all the common types, including SmartMedia. There's a PictBridge socket for camera connection, too. At the back, a single USB 2.0 port is the only PC connection.
Canon provides a good selection of software with the machine, including copies of ArcSoft’s PhotoStudio bitmap editor and OmniPage SE 4 for OCR. It all installs painlessly enough and gives above-average support for the machine’s functions.
Using the PIXMA MP600 as a standalone device is made considerably easier by the adoption of what Canon calls Easy-Scroll. Most of the major menus employ an elliptical arrangement of icons or options which you scroll around with a click-wheel on the control panel, pressing an OK button in the centre of the wheel to select.
Two new buttons, labelled Navi and Home, are also useful extensions. Home takes you back to the top level menu and Navi offers you a complete breakdown of each operating mode – copy, scan, memory cards – so you don’t have to tunnel down through the menu structure.