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A few months ago, we tested the Canon Pixma MX700 with strong results. The multifunction printer, scanner, fax machine, and copier performed intuitively and yielded excellent quality prints. Most importantly in the world of multifunction printers, each of the functions operated easily and efficiently on their own. Our only complaints were that it was a tad slow on text prints, lacked advanced faxing options, and didn't have an autoduplexer. Canon answered those issues with the new $400 Pixma MX7600. The MX7600 features superb photo print quality that you simply won't get with a laser printer. This, coupled with a new proprietary print head system, autoduplexer, and significantly faster output speeds, make the MX7600 an excellent option for anyone in the market for a high-grade, photo-capable all-in-one.
The MX7600 retains the same overall design of the MX700, using gunmetal grays, matte blacks, and glossy finishes to enhance its visual appeal. This printer demands a lot of desk space at 10.1 inches tall by 19.7 inches wide by 21 inches deep, and it's certainly not meant for personal use. It's also a lot heavier than the MX700, weighing a hefty 36.6 pounds. You'll find the automatic document feeder on the rear of the printer behind the flatbed scanner and it can hold 35 pages of plain or legal-sized paper. The feeder itself also folds down and out of the way when not in use.
In general, the MX7600 is a space-saving device, despite its large footprint. The paper trays extend out to corral sheets and fold away into the body afterward. The media card slots (Compact Flash, SD, Memory Stick, and MMC) are also covered by a foldout piece of plastic to protect them from dust. Next to that, there's a PictBridge USB port for connecting a camera directly into the printer. We also like the design of the main output tray that, like the auto document feeder, can fold into the printer during downtime, but it automatically opens when it's processing a document. A front-loading input tray can hold up to 150 sheets of paper.
The front of the MX7600 is taken up by the comprehensive control panel. Alongside the standard buttons (directional keys, alphanumeric keypad, start, power, functions), the MX7600 also includes eight buttons for speed dialing individuals or groups. There are also dedicated buttons for search, two-sided printing, fax quality, and image enlarging/reducing. A 1.8 inch angle-adjustable color LCD sits in the middle of it all for onsite editing, photo selection, and general functionality display.
The copier on the MX7600 contains all the standard functions you'd find on a full size office machine. It has options for special copying, including two-sided, two-on-one, four-on-one, borderless, image repeat, collated copy, and fade restore. You can also control zoom magnification in 25 percent-to-400 percent intervals, through preset ratio increases, or a fit-to-page option.
The scanner relies on the PC for connectivity; you can't scan to the MX7600's internal memory and print from there. The scanning options are mostly handled by the MP Navigator EX software that comes with the unit. The software is pretty standard, allowing for minor edits and page formats for printing. Scanned data can be saved to the PC, sent directly to an e-mail, or saved in PDF form on your hard drive. A limited optical character recognition functionality is available through the Navigator EX program. The MX7600 can save files as JPEG, TIFF, bitmaps, and PDF. Unfortunately, the MX7600 still doesn't have the capability to scan directly to a USB card or memory card, a feature we also missed on the MX700.
One of the most outstanding features on the MX7600 is the fax machine, a huge improvement over the limited functionality of the MX700. We love that Canon included eight one-touch dial buttons in addition to 100 coded speed dial buttons. You can also print out a sheet of these destinations to serve as a visual reminder. The MX7600 includes sequential broadcast faxes that lets you send the same document to up to 109 recipients in one session. If you frequently send documents to the same set of numbers, registered group dialing is also available. Finally, the machine is also capable of remote receiving. If the fax machine isn't set to memory receiving, users can pick up the handset of the telephone connected to the machine, dial a number, and begin to receive faxes.
The MX7600 can print from a computer, through a direct PictBridge compatible camera, or from a memory card. This time around, Canon lets users select one of four ways to print: single photo display (one at a time or all at once), multiselect prints, special photo prints, and photo index sheet. Within the selection process, you can choose to view via full-screen, enlarged view via digital zoom, or in a slide show with 5-second intervals. There are also a handful of other options including trimming (edit by cropping), time stamp, and bordered prints.
Special photo prints include various layout prints, index prints, DPOF prints (prints according to the order format settings on the camera), and printing with the photo's Exif information in the margins.
The MX7600 printed pages faster than the MX700 in most of our tests. The MX7600 also leapt ahead of the Kodak EasyShare 5500 in all subject tests except for the photo test, which are within fractions of a page of each other anyway, so the difference is insignificant. We tested it against one of our current favorite all-in-one printers, the HP Officejet L7780 that won our Editors' Choice award last year. Even though the Canon was beaten by three pages per minute in the text printing test, the MX7600 fought admirably in the rest of the tests and actually scanned pages faster than the L7780. Overall, Canon has made leaps and bounds over previous models in terms of speed, doubling its pages per minute count in half of our speed tests.
The quality of prints has also improved as well, thanks to Canon's new Pigment Reaction inkjet technology. In contrast to its MX700 that has four ink tanks, the MX7600 has six tanks, five Lucia pigment inks and one cartridge of clear ink. Canon's Pigment Reaction works by laying down a coat of the clear ink first and bonding it with the color pigments to create better quality graphics on plain paper. We found the text quality to be well formed with no jagged edges or misplaced ink dots. While some other multifunction inkjets, such as the Brother MFC-685CW, produce photos with fuzzy edges and dull colors, the MX7600 graphics are bright and sharp, even on standard 20-pound sheets. The graphics we printed seemed to pop off the page with smooth gradients and an overall even amount of color saturation. The addition of the clear ink cartridge boosts the package price of the MX7600 a bit; the new clear ink cartridge costs $18, a few dollars more than the $15 pigment inks.
Service and support
Canon offers a limited one-year warranty with the Pixma MX7600. The company also offers toll-free phone support and 24-7 e-mail support, should you run into any problems. Extra features including online manuals, drivers, FAQs, and ink cartridge order forms can be found on Canon's Web site, usa.canon.com.
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