Epson Stylus Photo PX800FW review
Exhaustively testing all-in-one devices is a long and repetitive process, so much so that actually enjoying it is a rare occurrence. But Epson’s latest is not your average all-in-one. In fact we’d go as far as to say the Stylus Photo PX800FW is the most user-friendly printer we’ve had the pleasure of testing.
The key to its simplicity is its control panel. While most are moving to larger colour LCD displays, comprehensive menus and scroll wheels for navigation, Epson has opted for something different: what looks like and is advertised as an 8in touchscreen is, in fact, a touch sensitive 3.5in LCD with further touch sensitive controls on either side.
And it works brilliantly. The permanent controls to the right and left are large enough to accommodate the fattest of fingers, keeps the most common selections – yes, no; left, right; select, cancel – off the main screen area, and leaves the screen area for less frequently used stuff.
And there are all kinds of extras here: alongside the usual setup options you have the ability to backup the contents of an inserted memory card (SD, MS, CF and xD-Picture formats) directly onto any external storage plugged into the USB socket on the front. There are quick buttons for printing lined or grid patterns directly onto plain paper for specialist use, and – this is more fun that it sounds – an option to turn any scanned image into a basic outlined colouring book-style image, ready for the kids to get scribbling.
The Epson can print directly onto CDs and DVDs, too. Rather than a separate tray that needs inserting as an adapter, a button on the front brings an integrated tray out, ready for the disc to be clicked into place. It takes about ten seconds to appear, but it’s better than having an extra part to lose down the back of a desk. There are also options in the menu to adjust the layout and size of the label before printing.
But as good as all this is, the Epson needs to produce the goods in our tests to really appeal. It got off to a flyer in our speed tests, churning out mono documents at 9ppm at normal quality, and a shade under 8ppm in colour.
Copies were just as nippy, with times of just 45secs for five mono copies and 55secs for colour. It even did an admirable job of keeping up with the Canon Pixma MP630 in our photo tests, producing a 6 x 4in print in 72 seconds, and our A4 montage in just over two minutes.
Unfortunately, though, where the Epson falls down is in its print quality. Text is bluish and speckled, with a distinct lack of sharpness to its edges, while colours bleed into one another on plain paper. The lack of a separate pigment-based black couldn’t be more evident next to the crisp output of the Canon (see opposite).
Photos are better, thanks to the extra light cyan and magenta tanks, but if you’ll be printing more photos than text there are vastly cheaper printers out there than this.
The scanner is a strength as with many Epson all-in-ones. Detail is high and colours are accurate while scan speeds are up there with the faster models we’ve tested.
Don’t expect this to lift the quality of your copies, though. The same print quality issues remain, and are magnified by the reproduction process.
These issues aside, as an all-round device the Epson is wonderfully versatile and with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, fax and an ADF it ticks every features box available.
But £234 exc VAT is an awful lot of money to pay for the joy of a touchscreen interface, and to make it worthwhile we’d expect print quality of the highest order to come with it.
|Resolution printer final||5760 x 1440dpi|
|Integrated TFT screen?||yes|
|Maximum paper size||A4|
Power and noise
|Dimensions||446 x 385 x 198mm (WDH)|
|6x4in photo print time||1min 12s|
|A4 photo print time||2min 0s|
|Mono print speed (measured)||9ppm|
|Colour print speed||8ppm|
|Input tray capacity||120 sheets|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Compact Flash reader||yes|
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|