Although all-in-one machines outstrip sales of single-function printers, there are good reasons why you may not need the extra functions of a combined device. You may already have a flatbed scanner or do very little scanning or copying, or you may be on a restricted budget and buying just what you can afford. At under £60, Canon’s single-function PIXMA iP3600 is more affordable than most all-in-ones, while still offering the economy of separate ink tanks for each colour.
Most of the iP3600 is cased in high-gloss, piano black, which looks good until it starts showing finger marks or scuffs. There's a simple, silver strip across the front, as a highlight.
This printer has a very simple, mechanical design, with paper feeding from a flip-up, 120-sheet feed tray at the rear to a two-stage, telescopic output tray at the front. To print photos, you remove the plain paper and narrow the guides to the width of your photo paper stock – the machine can handle blanks from 15 x 10cm to A4.
As a secondary feed, there's a 120-sheet paper cassette that slots in from the front, offering an unusually high 240-sheet capacity for an inexpensive printer. Unlike the cassettes in Canon's all-in-ones, this one projects from the front of the printer when in use, increasing its overall footprint.
There are only two controls on the machine, each assigned to buttons - with associated LED indicators - on the curved right-hand front edge. The top one is for power and the bottom to feed paper or cancel print jobs.
At the back, the only sockets are for USB, the sole data connection on the machine, and power. At least the power supply is integrated and the PIXMA iP3600 doesn’t require a separate power brick.
Hardware installation is simply a question of plugging the five ink cartridges into their holders on the print head. There are two black inks in this machine: a pigmented one for text print on plain paper and a dye-based one for photo prints. Each cartridge holder has an integrated red LED to show when it’s properly fitted and to indicate which cartridge to replace when the ink runs out.
Software installation includes a driver – versions are provided for Windows 2000 onwards and OS X from 10.3.9. There's no apparent support for Linux. Other software in the bundle includes Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint EX, which offers basic photo editing.