If Darth Vader was buying a photo printer, the £70 Canon Pixma iP3600 would be near the top of his shortlist. He'd certainly appreciate the acres of black shiny plastic: only the presence of some silver piping and rounded-off edges alleviate its monolithic air.
The minimalist look is echoed by the Canon Pixma iP3600's functions. You won't find flash memory card slots, Wi-Fi or LCD displays here. Instead you get a simple PictBridge port, plus power and pause/resume buttons on the front. The standout features are the two input trays - 10 x 15cm and A4 mono or photo paper, plus a second tray to the rear.
Lift up the Canon Pixma iP3600's lid and you'll find the print head with spaces for five separate ink tanks - black, photo black, cyan, magenta and yellow - all of which click easily into place.
The Canon Pixma iP3600 uses Canon's ChromaLife 100+ technology, which promises that your prints will last for over 300 years when placed in an album, or 30 years under glass when used with compatible photo paper.
Like previous Pixma printers, the Canon Pixma iP3600 turns in a very good performance with mono prints, with suitably black blacks and almost no feathering. Our test sample had a tendency to band one line in every five when examined under a magnifying glass, but that's not something you'd normally notice, and was most likely peculiar to that machine.
Mono output is fast, even at the Canon Pixma iP3600's default setting, taking just 14 seconds to drop into the output tray from when we first clicked Print. It'll obviously churn output out faster than that in draft mode, but the default option delivers the best mixture of quality and quantity.
With colour prints, the Canon Pixma iP3600's performance is excellent. It's slightly slower than the Pixma iP4600, but the end result is the same - high-quality, colour-accurate photo prints with a complete absence of banding, streaks or other print artefacts. Output using the default setting can look a little washed out, but that's easily tweaked without taking a considerable hit in printing times. Our best quality print took 4 minutes 2 seconds.