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This is a big, silver and black machine, relieved by the fact you can leave it closed when not in use and by its 150-sheet paper cassette, which slides in underneath, so the rear tray, also 150-sheets, only need be opened when you’re printing photos or on special paper. As with several other PIXMA models, this one can print on properly coated CD and DVD blanks, using a separate disc holder, which slots in behind a fold-down cover inside the machine.
A small, hinged panel in the scanner lid reveals the machine's control panel and also a large, 93mm LCD display. The controls include Canon's click-wheel, which is used to navigate most menus, and large, clear buttons for other functions.
The scanner itself is a standard A4, glass flatbed with no Automatic Document Feeder. Inside the scanner lid, though, is a removable panel which reveals a transparency and negative holder, which can be laid on the flatbed for high-resolution scanning of photographic media.
A rather flimsy cover, set into the right-hand, curved front edge of the machine reveals three memory card slots, for CompactFlash, SD and MemoryStick, and xD cards. There's also a PictBridge socket, which doubles up for reading USB drives.
At the back of the machine are sockets for USB and Ethernet, but the PIXMA MP990 also offers wireless networking. Wi-Fi setup is pretty straightforward, though entering a WEP passcode with just the click-wheel is a bit long-winded.
Canon provides a good software bundle to back the machine and includes a copy of the ArcSoft PhotoStudio photo editor, as well as the usual package. There are drivers for Windows and Mac included on separate CDs.
The PIXMA MP990 uses a six-ink print engine, but rather than adding light cyan and light magenta, it adds photo black and grey inks to the standard CMYK set. All six cartridges click into the print head in standard Canon fashion and each has its red LED indicator to show it’s properly seated and to flash when the ink is low.