Epson RX420 review

£71
Price when reviewed

Boasting similar dimensions and features to HP’s PSC 1215, the £71 Epson RX420 was a serious contender for the Best Value award this month. Epson’s big selling point is the low running costs: a single 6 x 4in photo will set you back just 11.9p, less than any other unit on test.

Epson RX420 review

Thankfully, the RX420 happens to be pretty handy when it comes to photo quality too. Our photomontage emerged with vibrant colours, as did our 6 x 4in prints. They weren’t as smooth as some, but you have to look close up to notice the grain.

Unfortunately, the RX420 isn’t exactly a speed demon. Each 6 x 4in photo took three minutes, 44 seconds, while our full A4 montage took a whopping six minutes, 58 seconds.

Speed was a similar problem elsewhere. At Normal quality settings, the Epson produced our A4 text document at 2ppm, although those in a rush can use the Draft setting, which ups the speed to 10.1ppm. Copying a single page of the same document five times took two minutes, 53 seconds, or 1.7ppm. Frustratingly, there’s no option on the front of the printer to change quality settings – either for text or photo – so there’s no Draft copy option.

As you’d expect at this price, there’s no colour screen, but the RX420 does have a card reader. It supports all current formats, and cards can be accessed through Windows Explorer – just note the USB 1.1 rather than USB 2 interface.

While photo quality is solid, our DTP graphics were handled poorly, with blacks appearing too grey. Mono text suffered from the same problem and was also too feathered for our liking.

Characters of copied documents lacked clarity and weren’t black enough, giving the finished product a decidedly draft-quality appearance. Our copied photos were better, although there weren’t enough front-panel options to print them without borders.

The USB 1.1 interface also meant that scanning was slower than most. The scanner has an optical resolution of 1,200ppi, but scanning a 10 x 8in image at this setting took six minutes, 17 seconds. However, the wait was worth it, as we had no complaints with the quality.

Both Epsons on test have terrific ability when it comes to handling photos – both printing and scanning – and, if this is your priority, the RX420 is a great-value choice. Not only is it cheap to buy, it’s also economical to run, especially because of the individual ink tanks. However, as an all-round performer, the HP is the better device.

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