Canon's update to its successful PIXMA MP600 All-in-One takes most of the best features and builds on them, without increasing the price by a significant amount. Where the MP600 had a scan resolution of 2,400 x 4,800ppi, for example, the MP610 scans at up to 9,600 x 4,800dpi, four times as high.
The PIXMA MP610 carries on the silver and black lines of its predecessor, but the new machine is a bit deeper and more rounded. It's almost octagonal, but with longer sides front and back. A paper feed tray flips up from the back of the top panel and a telescopic support pulls up to hold the paper.
At the front of the machine's lid, a fold-up panel holds a 62mm LCD display and the machine's logically designed controls are set into the scanner lid itself. Here there are two context-sensitive function keys, several buttons for navigation and the same finger dial and four-way button pad that the PIXMA MP600 used to select menu options.
The front panel folds down as a paper exit tray and below this is paper cassette. Both cassette and tray can take 150 sheets of plain paper each, or you can use either of them to take photo blanks, arranging the two feed mechanisms in whichever way is best for you.
A small flip-open cover to the right of the output tray takes CompactFlash, SD, MultiMedia card and MemoryStick, but not xD cards. This seems an odd omission, since this card format has superseded SmartMedia and has a reasonable following with camera makers - Fujifilm and Olympus spring to mind. At the back of the machine are mains and USB 2.0 sockets - there's no network or wireless support on this machine.
The All-in-One takes five cartridges, with both dye and pigment-based black inks, and these all clip into the head carrier and are, helpfully, illuminated with red leds when properly clipped into place.
Canon provides a copy of Nuance OmniPage SE and Presto! PageManager for OCR and document handling, as well as a range of Canon's own applets for photo and label printing. Label printing for CDs and DVDs is standard with the PIXMA MP610 and a separate disc tray is supplied. As before, this slots in from the front of the machine, once you've pulled down an awkward internal flap.
One of the other new features of the PIXMA MP610 is its inbuilt, automatic photo correction, which analyses an image from a memory card or PictBridge camera and makes automatic adjustments to brightness, contrast and saturation. This is claimed to be particularly good for bringing out shadow detail and worked well for us.