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Canon i560 review: Canon i560

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.


Canon i560

The Good

Inexpensive; fast; excellent text print quality; good photo print quality; useful features; clean, compact design.

The Bad

Some trouble printing mixed text-and-graphics documents; warranty and free support last only a year.

The Bottom Line

This color inkjet is an excellent value for families, students, job seekers, and, of course, digital photo nuts.
Review summary
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.

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 "--="" rel="nofollow">&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.

The i560's 22-page-per-minute (ppm) engine speed should be taken with a grain of salt, as usual, but the printer is still surprisingly fast. In CNET Labs' tests, it printed text at 6.8ppm and an 8x10-inch test photo at 1.9 minutes per page (mpp). The Epson Stylus C84 is cheaper but slower, at 4.6ppm for text and 2.6mpp for photos.

The i560 is economical with ink. According to our drain tests, the i560 averaged 60 cents per print with our high-resolution, graphics-packed 8.5x11-inch photo. You can divide this cost by approximately four to get a sense of how much it'll cost to print 4x6-inch photos.

The Canon i560's overall image quality was good. Text quality on inkjet paper looked excellent; it's been years since we've seen this kind of near-laser-sharp text from an inkjet. Graphics on inkjet paper was fair; shading in colors and blacks looked excellent, and there was no visible banding. Our test photo looked smooth. All of the photographic elements that required black ink, however, were oversaturated and extremely fuzzy at the edges before we deep-cleaned the printheads. After the cleaning, colors became truer, and skin tones looked smoother and more lifelike. In the end, the photo prints were just a step below those of pricier inkjets, such as the HP Photosmart 7960 and the more bargain-priced Epson Stylus C84.

Inkjet printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Canon i560
Epson Stylus C84
HP Photosmart 7960
Canon i960

Inkjet color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Canon i560
Canon i960
Epson Stylus C84
HP Photosmart 7960

Inkjet printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics
 Canon i560 •••• ••
 Canon i960 ••• ••••
 Epson Stylus C84 ••• •••
 HP Photosmart 7960 ••• •••

Canon's support for the i560 is adequate. Free support lasts only as long as the printer's one-year warranty; it costs $9.99 per call thereafter, and it's always a toll call. Lines are open 8 a.m. to 12 midnight weekdays and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays ET. When we called, the representative answered the phone almost immediately and solved our problem quickly.

Canon's Web site offers a multitude of resources, including driver and documentation downloads, FAQs, an interactive troubleshooting engine, e-mail support, a knowledge base, and supply ordering. In the printer's box, there's a setup poster, a thorough paper manual, and a CD-only manual that has slightly more information.


Canon i560

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 9Support 7