Epson Business Inkjet B-500DN review

Price when reviewed

Small businesses with only an occasional urge for colour printing can find themselves paying a premium as the costs per page for most colour laser printers can be prohibitively high for infrequent use. However, Epson’s latest Business Inkjet B-500DN claims it can deliver colour at the same cost as a mono laser print.

Epson Business Inkjet B-500DN review

It also offers high colour print speeds. Epson quotes 37ppm and 32ppm for draft and normal modes, while its monthly tour of duty can be as high as 20,000 pages. The printer comes as standard with a duplex unit at the rear, while the chunky ink cartridges slot into a bin at the front, with the standard models holding enough for 3,500 colour and 3,000 mono pages. Two high-capacity cartridges can take this up to 4,000 colour and 7,000 mono pages or 8,000 mono pages respectively.

Our cost calculations show that Epson has hit the mark for value, with a full colour page costing 3p at five per cent coverage and just 0.8p for a mono page using the standard cartridges. The high-yield versions sees this drop to only 2p for colour and 0.7p for mono, while the 8,000-page mono cartridge works out cheaper still.

So far, so good, but it’s all downhill from here, A basic 30-page mono Word document using the Text driver setting returned only 18ppm, while Draft mode improved speed only marginally to 20ppm. We did achieve the claimed 37ppm draft speed, but only by printing a 20-page Word document with one line of text on each page.

We saw similarly slow speeds for colour, with our 24-page DTP test print averaging only 16ppm using the Text and Image driver mode. Epson also quotes a time to first page of less than three seconds, but in testing this was never below ten seconds.

Epson doesn’t get our vote for print quality either. Using standard 80gsm paper, text suffered from unsightly smudging and banding which didn’t improve much on higher-quality 100gsm paper. Mono photographs clearly had white lines through them, and levels of detail in darker areas were unremarkable.

Colour printing isn’t much better. The PC Pro colour performance chart showed smooth graduations across colour fades, but with clear banding. It couldn’t even print the horizontal fade bars straight. Banding got even worse with photographs printed on standard paper, and large areas of single colours such as skies suffered from patchiness.

We used the driver’s maintenance tools to clean and check the nozzles. The head alignment tool prints small numbered blocks and asks you to choose those with no vertical lines in. But we couldn’t: they all had lines in.

The B-500DN initially looks good and printing costs are impressively low. But as a colour laser beater, the poor output quality and unachievable print speeds means it fails to do the job.

Basic Specifications

Resolution printer final5760 x 1440dpi
Integrated TFT screen?no
Rated/quoted print speed37PPM
Maximum paper sizeA4
Duplex functionyes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page0.8p
Cost per A4 colour page3.0p

Performance tests

Mono print speed (measured)20ppm
Colour print speed16ppm

Media Handling

Input tray capacity500 sheets


USB connection?yes
Ethernet connection?yes
Bluetooth connection?no
WiFi connection?no
PictBridge port?no

Flash media

SD card readerno
Compact Flash readerno
Memory Stick readerno
xD-card readerno
USB flash drive support?no

OS Support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported?yes

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