The Canon iP2600 comes with a document kit, easy setup instructions, Leopard information sheet, Important information sheet, quick start guide. Also included is the setup software and user's guide CD ROM, user guide, ink cartridges: black and color, power cord, print head, sample media – 5 sheets of 4x6 inch photo paper and a cross sell sheet, which recommends other Canon products. It doesn't come with a USB cable, which is disappointing. So, don't forget to get one and factor that into the overall cost: an additional $10 or so.
Setup was a smooth process following the steps outlined on the Easy Setup Instructions and the installation CD. The Easy Setup instructions take you through connecting the printer and installing the ink, then the driver and software were quickly installed through the Easy Install option. The only step that's missing is a print test and head cleaning, which is always a good thing to do when new ink is installed. However, the installation CD didn't offer this as part of the setup process. It was only when we did our first print that a window popped up noting the new ink was in place and there are problems with print quality then print head cleaning needs to be conducted.
The Easy Setup Instructions is a 4-page front-to-back pamphlet that provides useful graphics and text to help you with the initial setup of the printer, from locating and opening the trays (which on this printer is not immediately obvious) to installing the ink. The main hard copy manual for the Canon iP2600 is the Quick Start Guide. It's 67 pages, comes in English and gives instructions for both Windows and Macintosh systems. The manual is really precise about details and outlining what's included with the printer, their descriptions and troubleshooting. The Canon iP2600 manual was a breath of fresh air because of its thorough descriptions of printer functions such as print head cleaning and relevant instructions for Macintosh users.
Drivers and Administration (8)
Canon iP2600's main portal into the driver is through Canon My Printer, which holds three clickable options: Printer Settings, Printer Status and Troubleshooting. The Printer Settings link leads you directly to the driver. The Printer Status bypasses the printer driver and leads you straight to the ink levels, print queue and connection status of the printer. Clicking on Troubleshooting leads to a window where you can select from a few pre-assumed problems and links to online information and the on-screen manual.
The driver for the Canon iP2600 is satisfyingly extensive in its options provided. The Main tab of the driver offers media type options where you can select the type of paper you'd like to print on, like plain paper, photo paper or you can chose from the eleven other paper options. You can adjust the color intensity through either selecting the Auto option or Manual and make the adjustments yourself.
The second tab in the driver, Page Setup, provides an outlet to choose paper size, the layout, whether you'd prefer duplex printing and ordering of pages (descending or ascending order), collated or grouped by page number/order.
The Effects tab comes third and is a window for you to change the appearance of your images manually through several toggle bars that adjust monochrome effects where you can colorize your black and white photo in to shades of sepia, blue, green, pink or select your own color. This window also lets you simulate an illustration, optimize your image and reduce noise.
The last two tabs of the driver are Profiles and Maintenance. The Profiles tab lets you change the profile; you can add, use the default and view the current settings.
Since the Canon iP2600 doesn't have a screen of any sort, or an on-unit menu, the Maintenance tab of the driver is the only place where you can request print head cleaning, alignment, nozzle check, ink cartridge settings and roller and bottom plate cleaning.
The Canon iP2600 only comes with one piece of software: Easy-PhotoPrint EX, which is a basic software that lets you design your own pages to print. You can select photographs to create a photo album, a calendar, a page of stickers, select a particular layout or view and organize your library of photographs created in Easy-PhotoPrint EX.
Contrary to the dark-shading in the left-hand navigation bar, you can go back and forth between options, for example jumping from Edit to Menu or Menu to Edit in the Album section, or jumping from Printer Settings to Page Settings and vice versa in the Layout Print section.
However, moving backwards will make you lose whatever edits and changes you made to your photograph in any section, still it's a good way to go back and undo the changes you've made if you're happy with what you've created.
Warm Up (5.06)
At start-up, the Canon iP2600 took just over 23 seconds to warm up. A modest performance when compared to the Canon iP1800, which took 22 seconds and the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 which took 24 seconds.
Power Usage (11.11)
The Canon iP2600 faired well in its power usage by coming in second in conserving energy among compared printers. While it used two more kilowatts/hour than the Canon iP1800 during printing, it made up for it by using one less during cleaning. Still the Canon iP2600 did very well since it used very little power during printing and cleaning compared to the kilowatt guzzlers: Epson R2400 and HP D7460.
Document Speed (5.33)
The Canon iP2600 did very well in our document speed test compared to others tested in its class. The iP2600 produced text documents in an average of 10.6 seconds per page and graphic documents in an average of 31.4 seconds per page. It completely stomped on Canon's previous printer, the Pixma iP1800, which spent an average of 53.6 seconds printing one text document. More brutality, it overtook Epson's R2400, which spent a whole 55.6 seconds on one text document.
Graphically, only the HP Photosmart D7460 was able to come close, but not close enough. Running an average of 37 seconds per graphic document, it lost to the iP2600 by 6.4 seconds per print. The iP2600 made Epson's R2400 and Canon's iP1800 look meager, comparatively.
As fast as the Canon iP2600 was, we thought it might be able to compete against color laser printers, but it fell quite below when compared to the HP Color Laserjet 3600n, which printed 17 pages per minute.
Photo Speed (9.62)
The Canon iP2600 continued good performance in to photo printing. Although it wasn't our fastest tested printer, it did average second. The iP2600 did a noticeably good job of printing large file 4x6inch prints. While the compared printers came in under half a page per minute, the iP2600 was able to push out nearly two prints.
The Canon iP2600 was beat out by HP's D7460 when printing small file 4x6 prints, small file 8.5x11inch prints and large file 8.5x11inch prints by a good margin. Even said, comparably it produced overall faster prints than the Canon iP1800 and Epson R2400, whose scores were quite disappointing.
While many printers like the Canon iP2600 are capable of printing from memory cards, compact flash cards and other media cards and USB, the iP2600 doesn't contain any supportable ports. Although it didn't lose any points for this, we were only able to test the printer speeds based on PC prints.
Color Accuracy (1.20)
Testing color accuracy is an integral part in our printer testing because it shows how well a printer can reproduce the little things like the color of the sky, green grass or the color of your skin. To test the accuracy of a printer, we have the printer print a representation of a standard color chart (see chart below) and measure how close the printer can get using an Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer. Using a software called Imatest Pro, we test the printer's printed chart with the Colorcheck option. The results tell us how close the printer's version of the chart got to the original.
The Canon iP2600 did exceptionally poor on our color accuracy test. It was only able to hit one color accurately on the head and that was light skin. In fact, in our efforts to improve the score by making a custom profile using a software called Eye-One Match 3, which queue's the printer to print a color chart and attempts to decipher the differences in color between what the printer printed and what the original looks like. It then creates a custom profile specifically for the printer so the printer can more accurately represent colors. Below is the results chart for the Canon iP2600. The farther away the circles and squares are, or the longer the line, the farther the printer was from matching the color. You'll notice that the iP2600 was able to match box two, or 'light skin' the best.
Most of the time, producing a custom profile emits improved scores in color accuracy, but oddly for the iP2600, it went the opposite way. The iP2600 produced the best color accuracy using its default profile on Canon photo paper, though nothing to be proud of, as at its best it still was poor.
Color Gamut (2.15)
The Color Gamut test looks at how much of the standard Adobe RGB color space a printer can accurately reproduce. Printers that can render more of the Adobe RGB color space will ultimately output images with a greater range of colors and look more attractive to the eye. On the graph below, the solid color is the color space that the printer can cover, while the grid represents the entire Adobe RGB color space. The closer the two, the more colors the printer can represent and the higher the score.
Being able to cover 50% of the color space is considered acknowledgeable; a good performer. Being able to reproduce 70% is considered excellent. So you can get a better idea of how the Canon iP2600 did, I'll show you how its competitors fared first. Epson R2400 reproduced a very generous 66% of the color space, the Canon iP1800 55% and the HP D7460 43.45%.
The Canon iP12600 was able to reproduce 32.07% of the color space, which was even more disappointing to see since the Canon iP1800 did such a good job in this test.
The DMax test is a measurement of the densest black that the printer can produce. We measure this using a densitometer; we use the EyeOne Pro spectrophotometer from Gretag Macbeth. The ideal value of a printer is 2.50, although reaching this score is nearly impossible, getting close is valued highly, as it means that the printer will produce deep, dark blacks.
The Canon iP2600 came back with a shocking return with its DMax value; it beat out its three competitors easily. With a score of 2.4, it beat out Epson R2400's 2.26, HP D7460's 2.04 and Canon iP1800's very low score of 1.78.
Black and White (4)
Creating the right black and white photograph took a lot of work on the user's end (me). At the default level where the photograph is untouched by the software and printer driver, the black and white print comes out blotchy, with a slight shade of purple and just very gothic looking (left image below).
It took many prints at several different settings to figure out what combination produced a good black and white photograph (right image above). And it turns out, the best black and white the Canon iP2600 produced was edited only by the printer driver – when the grayscale, high quality, and the correct photo paper were selected.
The Canon iP2600 is shapely and sleek. It's glossy, black exterior, although pleasant to look at, attracts a good amount of dust and fingerprints. However, that's a minor burden to bear for its compact size and lightweight qualities.
When closed, the front of the Canon iP2600 is black with a small horizontal silver strip running across the top of it. It's not evident that there's a tray that pops down. In fact, there isn't even a clear place to put your finger to pop it out. There's a slight indent at the top of the tray, but it's definitely not visible at first glance. What makes the sleek look work for this printer is the fact that there aren't stickers or other labelings on it – outside of one small one placed on the top left corner.
The back of the printer is clean as well. There's one significant indent on the back end of the printer where sits a port to plug in the power cord.
The right side carries the USB port and is otherwise free of any other markings and ports.
The left side is entirely clear of any ports or markings.
The top of the Canon iP2600 holds the input tray. Unlike the output tray it is visible and it's clarified better as to where you can pull it open, however there isn't a whole lot of finger space, the space suits the task.
To the right of the tray are two lit buttons. The first one is the power button; it's signified by a light gray power symbol. Below it is the cancel print button.
The interior, where the ink is placed, is viewable by pulling up on the silver strip. When open, the ink will slide itself to the proper side of the printer for placement or replacement.
The Canon iP2600 does not have a display.
Paper Trays (1.5)
The Canon iP2600 only has one input tray and one output tray. The input tray holds up to 100 sheets of paper, according to Canon.
CD Burner (0)
There is no CD burner with this printer.
The Canon iP2600 does not have the option of operating on a battery.
There is a removal power cord that comes standard with the iP2600.
Internal Memory (0)
No internal memory is provided with this printer.
The Canon iP2600 is incapable of multitasking.
Hard Drive (0)
A hard drive is not included with this printer.
The Canon iP2600 has an array of paper options from plain paper to semi-gloss to High Resolution and All Occasion photo paper. It also has two types of associating ink you can purchase. However, even though the printer is lightweight and probably could be tote-able, there are no cases or other accessories available.
The inks are relatively priced at $19.99 each. The paper prices go from $7.99 for 50 sheets of 4x6inch photo paper to $39.99 for 400 sheets of 4x6inch Photo Paper Plus Glossy II paper. The later works out to be a bargain at $0.099 per sheet, while the 50 sheets of 4x6inch photo paper comes to be $0.16 per sheet.
Controls and Buttons (6)
The Canon iP2600 only has two buttons on its entire unit. One is the power button and the other is the cancel print button. Both are placed well and designed fit the image of the printer. They sit properly within reach and slightly out of sight.
The Canon iP2600, unfortunately, does not have an on-unit menu.
Size and Footprint (5.07)
At 8.1 lbs, the Canon iP2600 is very lightweight for its size of 17.4"W x 10"D x 5.6"H. The printer can easily be carried from room to room but its size doesn't make it a traveling printer. Because the printer is so lightweight overall, it makes opening and closing its trays feel like feathers. The iP2600 has lost half-an-inch in its depth and height from the Canon iP1800 but has gained about half-a-pound as well; a small change in an already lightweight printer.
The Canon iP2600 prints with two ink cartridges: one black cartridge and one tri-color cartridge made up of yellow, magenta and cyan. Placement of the inks was simple but the turnover rate of the ink was rapid. After printing about 15 8.5'x11' photographs, the color cartridge became very low. Although it may be convenient and less expensive to have one cartridge dedicated to all of the colors instead of having individual cartridges per color, it may not give accurate ink levels. If you print a lot of blue skies and the blue runs out, the color cartridge won't say the blue is out and continue using magenta and yellow. It'll ask you to replace the entire color ink cartridge.
Ink for the Canon iP2600 uses two cartridges, one black and one color. At the cheapest the PG-30 Black ink cartridges costs $15.99 and the CL-31 Color cartridge costs $19.99. Canon also offers PG-40 Black for $19.99 and CL-41 Color for $24.99, two ink cartridge that Canon advertises to be better. Price-wise, this system ends up being a good deal compared to the Epson R2400 which takes several ink cartridges separated by individual colors. But the iP2600's ink runs out fairly quickly and because the color cartridge holds all three colors of yellow, magenta and cyan in one cartridge, you may run out of one color before another but still need to replace the entire color cartridge. This is where having the individual cartridges wins out.
Ink Management (6)
The Canon iP2600 had good ink management. It displays a window every time a print is requested with the ink levels displayed in a graphic of two cylinders, one with black ink and the other with multi-colored ink. The driver also offered easy access into the ink levels.
Because all three inks are meshed into one color cartridge, the driver and the printer can't tell which color is left and which needs replacing. If you print a bunch of blue skies, the cyan may run out before the yellow and magenta, but the ink management tool will request that you replace the entire color cartridge.
Print Quality Settings (4.5)
The printer driver has some quality editing options, including high, standard, fast and custom. You can also adjust the intensity through the driver between auto and manual, and change it further within the manual option. You can change the texture of your photographs to simulate illustrations and change the coloring of your photograph all together. The driver also allows you give you the Image Optimize option and Noise Reduction to help create a sharper more crisp photograph.
Internal Editing (0)
Because the Canon iP2600 doesn't have a display, it doesn't carry on-unit editing options.
Dedicated Black and White Settings (5.5)
The driver offers a good amount of black and white editing. Like I said earlier, the best black and white photograph was created through editing in the driver. A Grayscale option is available on the first tab of the driver window and in the Effects tab, you can colorize your black and white photographs to either the set colors of blue, sepia, green, pink or create a custom color.
Media Types (3)
The Canon iP2600 takes your regular media types: letter, legal, 8x10inch, 5x7inch, 4x8inch, 4x6inch and credit card. It also takes l#10 envelopes and photo stickers.
Formats and Compatibility (0)
The Canon iP2600 does not support Pictbridge, Bluetooth or any other type of connection outside of one USB port and a power cord port.
Media Slots (0)
There are no media slots in the iP2600.
The Canon iP2600 does not support wireless function.
The iP2600 is incapable of networking.
Ease of Use (7)*
The Canon iP2600 was easy to use because there wasn't a lot to it; no extra plugs or ports outside of a USB to connect to a computer and a power cord connection. The printer printed and that was that. With only two buttons on the actual printer, it left out any confusion about their respective functions: power on and off, and cancel print. The printer is designed sleek and functions simply.
For $49.99, this printer presents itself as a good value up front. Your cost will come with the ink and because the iP2600 has a tendency to go through ink pretty quickly, especially if you're printing photographs, it can end up being pricy.
The Canon iP2600 faired well when it came to print speeds. It out-beat the previous Canon Pixma iP1800 and both Epson's R2400 and HP's D7460 in both photo prints and document prints. All the compared inkjet printers, however, toppled over the Canon iP2600 in color accuracy and color range. The fact that the HP Photosmart D7460 has an on-unit screen, and a touchscreen to boot, makes the Canon iP2600 look a bit primitive as well, despite it's seemingly sleek appearance. The fact that the Canon iP2600 proved to be one of the fastest inkjet printers among the compared printers doesn't thump the fact that it took much work on the user's end to produce likable black and white photographs and more work to correct the poor, yellow-toned skin the printer produced. This is where the other printers, HP's D7460 and Epson's R2400 take the win with better photo quality, better color-matching and color range.
The Canon iP2600 is cheap, but you get what you pay for; blues, reds and greens turned into pastel shades and it did a poor job of duplicating skin tones, often turning them into shades of yellow. However, for a very affordable $49.99, the Canon iP2600 offers fast and good quality document and text prints. The Canon iP2600 was one of the fastest at producing text and document prints by a good margin against its tested and compared inkjet competitors. So if all you want is a cheap, fast inkjet for document printing, it's a decent pick. Just don't expect to get good photo quality out of it as well.
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