Setting up the iP4600
The iP4600 represents what is, in many ways, a dying breed: the single-function home/home office inkjet printer. These devices may have ruled the roost a few years ago, but they’ve certainly fallen out of favor in the face of the dedicated photo printers for photo enthusiasts, affordable monochrome lasers for home office users, and multi-function devices for general users. Though it may lack the Swiss Army Knife capabilities of an all-in-one, the iP4600’s appeal for general use is built around simplicity.
After the requisite printhead and ink tank installations (Canon provides an instruction sheet that clearly walks the user through this process), the first thing you may notice in getting the iP4600 prepped for printing is a distinct lack of both buttons and connections.
On the front panel, you’ll find your basic pair of power and sheet feed buttons. On the connections side, there’s a PictBridge port for direct-from-camera photo printing up front, and USB and power terminals out back. And that’s it. No card readers, LCDs, in-printer image editing, or networking capabilities here.
Canon does supply its stock printing software and driver suite with this iP, which lets you access a wider array of image correction and print control functions. The control panel utility itself is fine, and provides an easy-to-understand interface for performing basic tasks like correcting and printing photos. Having played with the supplied control panel for a few minutes with my Macintosh at home, I opted to bypass the software in favor of a driver-only installation on my work-supplied Windows machine.
However you set it up, the iP4600 went from sitting in the box to spitting out prints in less than ten minutes. While I lament the lack of built-in network interfacing capabilities, it sure does simplify setup. Just one USB connection and you’re done.
Ease of Use
With only the most basic print functions included on this model, it’s hard to imagine how the iP4600 might be hard to use. Having tested many all-in-one models, going back to a single-function general purpose printer reminded me why such a device can work better for less tech-savvy users. With a single driver to install, getting the iP4600 set up couldn’t be easier.
The iP4600’s default control panel is like most other inkjets, allowing the user to specify paper size/type, print quality, and which tray the media will feed from. On the question of different stocks, I had no trouble using the iP4600 with even heavyweight glossy photo stock – so long as it was fed from the back-side sheet feeder instead of the cassette.
Although the iP4600 doesn’t have lots of advanced image editing effects, Canon does provide options for creating black-and-white images, instant illustration simulations, upping image vibrancy, and reducing noise and grain right from the print control panel.
Similarly, this iP provides control of its maintenance functions right from the print control panel as well.
Users can clean and align the print heads, check to make sure ink is being laid down cleanly, and even run a process to clean the rollers right from their computer desktop. Although it’s buried at the end of the list, Pixma users should also take note of the “Quiet Mode” options in the maintenance list. Putting the iP4600 in Quiet Mode really helps cut the noise generated in this model’s print cycle down to something more manageable – at the expense of printing and startup speed, of course.