Epson Stylus CX3600 review

Price when reviewed

At £73, the CX3600 costs only a few pounds more than our current favourite value inkjet, the Canon Pixma iP3000, yet Epson integrates a flatbed scanner into the bargain. At this price we’d expect some quality shortcomings, but the CX3600 managed to surprise us.

Epson Stylus CX3600 review

Our 50-page Word document was printed almost perfectly at normal settings, with text and line graphics appearing dark and solid. Draft quality was still readable, but showed noticeably thinner and pixelated text.

At 1.4ppm and 8.7ppm for normal and draft printing respectively, the Epson isn’t particularly speedy. We didn’t manage to coax anywhere near the quoted 15ppm from it, so it won’t suit those in a hurry but, for printing the odd Internet page and occasional large job, it won’t be too aggravating.

It’s with graphics, though, that the Epson really impresses. Non-photographic material, such as graphs and clip-art, displayed striking colours even at default quality, easily outperforming the more expensive unit from Lexmark. At best settings, the colour handling was great, and there was no banding evident in areas of solid colour.

The same was true in our photo tests, with good vibrancy and colour accuracy. Skin tones looked rich and warm, and the images displayed a pleasing balance and depth. Though there was a slight red hue to our black-and-white photos, we’d still be happy to have them on display, as contrast and detail were impressive. Again, the speed isn’t remarkable, with the Epson taking just over 3 minutes to produce a 6 x 4in print, but it’s on a par with the more expensive HP – and almost certainly quicker than a trip to Boots.

The A4 flatbed scanner will operate at up to 600 x 1,200dpi, and gave consistently good results. The software offers three options: Home, Professional and Auto. The first offers limited options on resolution and document type, the second full manual control, and the third takes over completely. Speed isn’t good here either, with an A4 preview taking 15 seconds, and a full scan at 200dpi a foot-tapping 25 seconds. If you switch over to automatic mode, an A4 scan will take nearly a minute, although we were satisfied with the cropping and resolution choices the driver makes. Detail resolution was excellent, and while a little weak on reds, colour accuracy is acceptable.

Standalone photocopying isn’t as idiot-proof as with the Lexmark or HP devices, with little in the way of direction from the front panel, but the results are excellent. Colours were much bolder than on the pages output by the Lexmark; it even gave a tolerable copy of an IT8 colour chart. Text remained crisp too.

Given the Stylus CX3600’s price, it delivers some surprisingly good results. It’s by no means fast, and lacks stand-out features such as card readers and multiple paper trays, but at this price we’re not complaining. We’ve no criticisms over the build quality either; the smart styling and robust trays are impressive for a sub-£100 unit. Those looking to digitise their old photos will be disappointed by the scanning speed, but for anyone on a tight budget that doesn’t demand immediate results, this is a great choice.

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