The MP560 is a wireless all-in-one printer, although in this case, all-in-one doesn't include faxing capabilities if you still needed that. Its design is pretty basic; a square flat box with silver sides and a black top. About the only remarkable thing that the MP560 brings is that the default set-up hides all the printer's controls. A flap on the right-hand side pops up to reveal the main printer controls and a tiny 2-inch LCD display screen. Controls include an iPod-style scroll wheel, used for making menu selections. Those who don't like scroll wheels can also use it as a straight directional pad for making choices.
Canon states the MP560's printing resolution at 9600x2400dpi, meaning that this is more of a photo-centric multifunction than, say, a document processing machine. Canon states the print speed of the MP560 as up to 9.2 images per minute (ipm) in black and up to 6.0ipm for colour text and graphics, with an approximate time for printing 10x15cm photos of 39 seconds. If you're thinking those figures sound rather low, bear in mind that Canon's using the new ISO 24734 ipm standard rather than the rather shakier old pages per minute speed ratings. Ipm should be more accurate to real life usage, which means our tests should be fairly similar to those in real testing.
The MP560 uses a dual-paper feed mechanism, with A4/Letter paper feeding from a cartridge at the base and photo paper types feeding in from the back. It supports PictBridge and memory card printing, but not direct printing to CDs. The scanner is a 48-bit, 2400x4800dpi CIS (Contact Image Sensor) type. The MP560 uses five individual ink tanks. Canon claims this is a more efficient way to reduce ink costs, but then again they also claim that the prints produced with the MP560's ChromaLife inks will produce photos that last 300 years. You'll have to forgive us — we haven't had the MP560 quite long enough to accurately verify that.
The MP560 supports wireless networking and connectivity via USB 2.0, but no actual Ethernet port. If you want to share the MP560 over a network, it's wireless or nothing.
Installation of the MP560 is the usual tapes and printer cartridges affair, although Canon supplies a multi-lingual installation booklet rather than the more common set-up poster approach. USB connection happens as part of the install, and you can configure your wireless settings either from your PC, or if you're feeling particularly masochistic, you can opt to enter your wireless network password via the MP560's scroll wheel. It's a slow, tedious process this way, but we tested it just to make sure it did work that way.
Getting the MP560 onto our wireless network was simple enough, but we did encounter problems getting it to work on an iMac running Snow Leopard. Despite updating the printer driver, application packages and even the scanner driver, Snow Leopard refused to actually print anything connected wirelessly for reasons that ultimately eluded us. It was doubly strange, as direct USB connection worked flawlessly. We encountered no such problems with the drivers supplied on the installation CD with Windows 7.
Black text quality was quite sharp in standard printing mode on 80gsm paper, although in common with most fast inkjet printers pages were slightly moist to first touch. Likewise photo prints had good saturation and colour fidelity but needed a short bit of drying time. In print speed terms, we averaged 15 seconds for an initial standard printed page and around eight pages per minute at standard coverage. Switching to "fast" printing, the MP560's equivalent of draft mode improved print speed a little to 11 seconds for first print and 10 pages per minute. Text quality was fair, but we did notice that the shudder of the print body did blur some characters in draft mode.
Ordinarily with a ppm measured printer we'd say the MP560 falls short of the mark, but those figures are well within the 9.2ipm figure Canon uses, and that deserves some congratulation. Photo printing was a little slower off the pace at around 49 seconds for a border-less 10x15cm photo print in our tests.