29 November 2008

Review: Canon MPS-610

This is an all-in-one colour inkjet scanner, copier and printer. They are widely available these days and I may be overly astounded by the quality of this one since my last colour inkjet printer was an Epson Stylus Photo 900.

The printer is a big silver box that weighs about 8 kg. It plugs into a USB port and the power lead can be changed. The top opens to reveal a control panel with a colour LCD screen, a jog wheel for choosing items and a variety of one-touch buttons, for doing photocopying and the like.

It has two trays, one underneath that has some guides to allow you to hold paper of different sizes snugly, and a back tray for those that like manual feeds. The MP610 has separate ink cartridges for three colours, a photo black and a larger document black for general printing.

The MP610 has an LED scanner with a maximum resolution of 9,600 x 4,800dpi that is pretty speedy in use and scans don't have to be made if all you are going to do is print them out again - the copy buttons (two: one for mono and one for colour) mean that the computer doesn't even need to be switched on to create extremely good-looking copies (I've used this machine for both colour and mono copies and there's none of the usual fading that marks out an inkjet copy compared to the original. About the only thing that differs at first glance is the type of paper).

Scans saved to the computer can be directly placed into an application like Photoshop or Acrobat, or saved in a variety of filetypes (JPG/Exif, TIFF, BMP or PDF) and supplied OCR software can convert scanned images to text (I have Acrobat with built-in OCR so I haven't tried the bundled Nuance OmniPage SE.

For printing from the computer (rather than photocopying), the MP610 delivers bright, very good quality prints even on standard photocopier paper. If you get some 10x15 cm photo paper such as that supplied in the CLI-8 ChromaLife Pack of inks and paper then you'll get photo prints indistinguishable from most photo labs these days.

You can even print out such photos without needing the computer on since the printer has a card reader. It takes CompactFlash, SD, MultiMedia card and MemoryStick, but not xD cards. This is fine for me since my camera uses an SD card, but my mum's camera (a Fuji) uses XD cards so it's no good for her. When inserting a memory card in you are presented with thumbnails on the colour LCD screen so you can instantly see what you will print out and since the printer also adheres to PictBridge and Canon's own FINE systems it means that adjustments will be made to the final image to ensure the best possible colour fidelity.

The MP610 is fantastic, I love it with all my heartses. Even its strangely anachronistic wheezing when its clearing its pipes is endearing and the quality of prints is outstanding. The XD omission does seem odd, duplex printing is frighteningly slow and this machine seems crying out to also be a fax, but then faxes are less and less useful these days and in my opinion won't be long in following the mighty telex in terms of "communications equipment of yesteryear". I don't print all that much so I can't complain that "it doesn't handle multi-thousand sheet print jobs" etc. but then you'd be a fool for expecting it to. On my patented pub scale (out of five allowing you to maintain a grip on a pint) I will happily give this printer a resounding 5/5

Nice Fx extension: Auto Context

Found an extremely nifty extension for Firefox this evening, Auto Context. It watches for when you select some text and then pops up a menu offering you choices, like so:

This is very handy for when you want to just copy text off a page without getting all the HTML so that your word processor doesn't overwrite your existing styles, and the "Search with..." option at the bottom of the list gives you all the search engines you have in the search field. The options you can see are the ones I wanted to keep but there is a very comprehensive options window to put exactly what you want up.

PS. Using this extension I can remove Context Search and Right Click Link.

PPS. I ought to give you the AMO link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5714