Monday, June 18, 2007

Printer Predicament Over

This is a follow-up I didn't get around to until a couple folks asked me about what I bought. I was trying to choose between the HP5180 and the Canon MP600 multifunction printers.

I chose the MP600, mostly for the reasons I indicated here. My wife picked up the printer for me from Yodobashi Camera, a major electronics retailer in Japan that sells much more than just cameras. They had a 'points' campaign and were giving 20% value in points for various printers. [Usually it is 5-10%. With 20%, I get ¥4000 I can use towards a future purchase or this one.] I was surprised when she called me from the shop and asked if I sure I wanted the Pixus and not the Pixma. This confused me, as I thought I had told her the wrong printer. The sales person told her that the Japanese version is Pixus (export model is Pixma), apparently because they use a different kind of ink. So, I have to buy all my ink from Japanese retailers - no biggie. Apparently there aren't any other differences between the Pixma/Pixus MP-600, at least functionally. The only differences I could see was that they did include the CDROM tray, for printing on CDROM disks, as well as a USB cable. My understanding is that both of these are absent from export models of the MP-600. The other difference is that the bundled OCR software only has Japanese menus (no other install options). Otherwise, the print drivers are in English, and you can use English on the LED menu.

Set up was fairly easy, thought the MP-600 has a rather large footprint. You can put paper in two different feeders: the vertical sheet feeder and the horizontal paper cassette. You can switch between the two with the click of a button on the printer itself. Or you can select from within the print dialog box. This is handy, as we need to print in both US Letter and A4 size paper. However, my guess is that most folks will put some sort of photo paper in the cassette. Scanner function works well, and calls up an app called "MP-Navigator" which saves it to file on your hard drive or opens it, depending on the option you choose.

Print speed is actually so-so. It takes a few seconds to wake up the printer, so if its your first print in a while - this slows the process down. You can choose 'duplex' mode from the print dialog box. I like this, but duplex printing is even slower. Quality of printed pages is good, though I didn't make a lot of comparisons. Although I can easily connect the printer to my AirPort Express, you can only print via airport and cannot use the other functions like scanning to the computer, or downloading photos from a memory card. With an airport connection, you also cannot access the printer utility from your computer. However, these functions can be accessed easily from the printer's LED menu itself.

We had a bit of a scare when printing our first photograph on photo paper. I loaded the cassette with some Epson 4x6 glossy photo paper and gave it a shot. [Loading the cassette was a bitch, so I may try by feeder next time.] The first photo we printed looked.... awful. I began to wonder if ignoring the directions to use only Canon paper broke my printer. My wife noticed that I had printed on the wrong side, and began to berate me. I wondered how this could be, and we discovered that you had to load the cassette with the printing side of your media face down. WTF! That seems bass-ackwards to me. However, once we printed on the correct side of the paper - we were both very impressed with the results. [And Epson paper works just fine...].

Another nicety we noticed is that if the front door from the printer is up, the printer will open the door automatically so that the output has some place to go. Nice touch! We also like that we can close the LED flap to save space, and that the printer puts the LED and other functions into a sleep mode. I'll take the trade-off for warm up time if we can save energy.

I haven't had the chance to try photocopy function, card slots, pict bridge, or even direct download from camera yet. My guess is that we won't use these much - but we will see.

In any case, we are quite happy with the new printer. Having everything networkable would be great, but the slow file transfer speeds via ethernet (or heaven forbid airport) would be a drag. Now I have to figure out if I have an open USB port on my iMac or whether I should just leave it as an Airport printer.

So, the Canon MP-600 gets a MacKenchi "Thumbs Up" for now. Let's see if it stands the test of time.


David said...

Glad to hear that you're enjoying your printer. I just purchased one myself but I was wondering... how did you get it to work over your Airport Express? Did you install any special drivers? I can't seem to get it to work with my Airport Extreme. Nothing shows up in the Printer Setup Utility. I had an old HP that worked perfectly on my Extreme.

umijin said...

I didn't do anything special, IIRC.

I did install the latest drivers for the MP600 beforehand and was initially using it as a USB printer.

I hadn't intended to use it via airport, but needed a USB port on my computer. And when I plugged the printer back in, I connected it to the USB line I was using to connect my old Epson to Airport by mistake. When I went to the printer utility, I recall seeing it on the list, so I chose it and it works.

Still works today.

aaron said...

Thanks for the info. My HP photosmart turned into a brick when i decided to replace one of the cartridges. The connectivity is a bit of a downer, but like you i'll just plug it into an airport express and sometimes into my macbook pro or desktop pc.

sivil said...

i hate that i can't scan over my airport express with it. i am begging/hoping that someone in the mac community figures out a way for this to happen. besides that, a great printer for the money.

umijin said...


You probably wouldn't want this anyway. Over Airport, the transfer times for scan files or even images from photocards would be slow.


Anonymous said...

I got an mp600 also and am generally happy, but it would be nice if canon made a bit more effort and made drivers so you could scan over airport... instead of providing an install disk that has stuff for os9!!! What is this 2000? ...

As to transfer times being slow over airport... well uhm I guess that means I can't really be enjoying my 8mb internet connnection through my airport??? If I can download through my aiprort a 10meg photo over the net faster than I can fart... then it can certainly handle any scan the canon can create.

umijin said...


My install disk didn't have OS9 stuff on it, IIRC - but I got the Japanese version. Scanner communication speed might not be what you think over airport. Check out what people say about HP scanners with wireless capability.

And for scanning - if you are in the same room as your MP600 - why aren't you directly connected to your printer/scanner? You can't really scan unless you are right there.