A built-in duplex unit means the Canon Pixma iP4600 is handy if you do a lot of double-sided printing. It also proved to be slightly faster than the cheaper Canon Pixma iP3600 when it comes to outputting some of our test prints.

The Canon Pixma iP4600 shares a family resemblance with its cheaper sibling, with a boxy, shiny, black, plastic design that looks great until the twin evils of dust and mucky fingerprints inevitably besmirch it.

Functionality is also almost as limited - concessions to modernity like flash memory card slots, Bluetooth or an LCD don't trouble the Canon Pixma iP4600 You can use the PictBridge slot to hook it up directly to your digital camera and that's about it.

The Canon Pixma iP4600 also comes with two printer input trays - one at the front and another at the back. Like the iP3600, it's also capable of printing onto suitable CD-R or DVD-R media using the disc tray supplied.

Since the Canon Pixma iP4600 is identical in almost every respect to the iP3600, it's unsurprising that it shares its ink technology too - you'll need five separate ChromaLife 100+ cartridges (black, photo black, cyan, magenta and yellow) to provide the printer with fuel, plus compatible photo paper for your output.

Storage life for the Canon Pixma iP4600's prints is 300 years in an album, or 30 years under glass. The test prints also proved immune to our water and scratch tests, so your photos are safe, even if the hands that hold them aren't.

Print quality with both mono documents and colour photo prints are again excellent. Black levels are profoundly deep with black text on white paper, with no evidence of banding or feathering and prints dropping into the out tray in 14 seconds. Colour printing with the Canon Pixma iP4600 is much faster than with the iP3600, with our best quality A4 photo appearing in 2 minutes 25 seconds - one and a half minutes faster.

OUR VERDICT

The Canon Pixma iP4600 is Canon’s flagship photo printer and it shows – print quality is excellent, and it delivers very fast results.