Text print quality is fair, though on our standard, multi-purpose paper you can see some feathering, which gives a slightly scruffy appearance to the text. This is no worse than from rival printers in this price bracket, though, and for most general purposes will be fine.
Colour graphics, particularly those using large areas of colour tint, even with black text superimposed, look sharp and smoothly tinted. Colours are bright, without being over-accentuated and look reasonably close to the on-screen originals.
Photo prints are smooth, with very little sign of dithering in areas of varying tone. Shadow contents are not blacked out, either, and foregrounds are full of sharply-defined detail. The vibrancy of lighter colours is not quite as strong as from a six-colour printer, but for day-to-day photo prints, there should be few complaints.
The only costs in running the PIXMA iP2600 are those for the two print cartridges. Both black and colour cartridges are available in two capacities and using the high yield versions in both cases - which give better economy - we calculate costs of 3.02p and 8.57p for ISO black and colour pages, respectively.
The black print figure is in the middle of the field for low-end printers and all-in-one machines, though the colour cost is 1.5p to 2p lower than most of its rivals. With only the cartridges to cost, it depends very much on the price you can find them for.
Canon has successfully ‘chipped' its print cartridges, so the remanufacture market is small and risky. You may have to take the chips out of your original cartridges and, even then, you're unlikely to get any ink usage figures from Canon's software. Indeed, you'll probably have to take responsibility for using a third-party cartridge, by agreeing to an on-screen prompt, before the machine will continue to print.
What it all comes down to is that the PIXMA iP2600 is a very good photo and plain paper printer for under £35. For the price, it's reasonably quick, fairly cheap to run and produces prints that are well above average. As you pay more, you'll find printers which print faster and at a lower cost per print, but you'll have to pay quite a bit more - for a printer which uses six or more inks - before you'll get noticeably better print quality. This is a very good device for the money.