Canon's i560 desktop photo printer shows that quality and economy can go together. Its excellent text quality reminds us of another inkjet we tested many years ago, except that one guzzled ink like a Hummer SUV does gas. The i560, on the other hand, demonstrates the sensible consumption style of a Toyota Prius hybrid, and it's speedy, too (though nowhere near Canon's claim of 22 pages per minute--as usual). Families, students, and photo enthusiasts who've been hit with high ink costs in the past should take a close look at this inexpensive, skinny-sipping Editors' Choice. Can't decide between the i560 and the slightly cheaper Epson Stylus C84? Let your digital camera decide. Only the i560 uses the PictBridge digital camera standard for direct, non-PC printing.
The i560 is one cute inkjet. Its compact, rectangular form measures 16.5 by 10.8 by 6.8 inches (W, D, H) and has a slightly pillowy shape to it, making it look less like a bread box and more like the loaf you'd put into it. The 150-sheet input and output trays tuck into the body of the printer, creating a neat, discreet package when the printer is not in use. The power button is on the top left. Next to it is the paper advance button. In the middle is the alarm indicator light.
Like the Epson Stylus C84, the i560 uses four separate cartridges: one for each color (cyan, magenta, yellow) and black. Color cartridges cost $11.95 each, and black cartridges cost $13.95. Because you can replace each color individually as it runs out, you should save money on ink over time.
Installing the i560 is as seamless as can be. The printer supports both PCs and Macs and has USB and parallel ports on the back. A setup poster walks you through the process. The included CD contains the bundled software and drivers for Windows 95 and up and Mac OS 8.6 and up.
Most of the i560's features reside within its driver. A series of colorful tabs choose paper type and print quality, add effects such as monochrome, and provide maintenance functions such as cleaning the printheads. Most of the tabs include a photo of the printer that reflects any settings changes, and the Main tab has a Print Advisor that walks you through various printing tasks. The Profiles tab offers advanced features, such as customizable print settings and individual color calibration.
The printer is PictBridge compatible, meaning you can print directly from any PictBridge-compatible digital camera or digital camcorder by connecting it to the second USB port on the front of the i560. Until now, most direct-print inkjets have worked only with same-brand cameras; at this early stage, however, only &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecipa%2Ejp%2Fpictbridge%2Findex%5Fe%2Ehtml" target="_blank">a few manufacturers support this standard.
The CD includes a handful of basic printing applications. ZoomBrowser EX/Photo Record imports, edits, and prints photos from a digital camera. PhotoStitch creates photo panoramas. Easy-PhotoPrint helps you print borderless photos and do simple editing, such as trimming and image rotation. And Easy-WebPrint autoadjusts the layouts of Web pages for painless printing.