Epson – EPL-5900 review

personal laser printer
Photo of Epson – EPL-5900
£270.00 + VAT

Epson might be well known for its inkjet products, but it hasn’t had anywhere near as much success in the laser printer market. This new EPL-5900 is part of a range of printers designed to change that. Given its compact size and the fact that this particular model doesn’t have any network connectivity as standard, the EPL-5900 qualifies as a personal laser printer. It has a parallel port at the rear alongside a USB 1.1 socket that can be used with either Windows or Macintosh machines. Drivers are supplied for both types of operating system.

The printer is rated at 12 pages per minute, but this applies to the speed of the engine itself, so you’ll only get near that when printing identical pages, preferably text only. In addition, the speed drops to around 6 pages per minute in the top resolution 1200 x 1200 dpi mode. For most purposes, though, the 300dpi, 600dpi or ’1200dpi-class’ modes will be good enough, since these produce decent output on plain office paper, helped by resolution enhancement.

Epson’s printer drivers have the usual features, including configuration functions such as print quality, job monitoring, paper size definition and so on. A4 is the standard paper size supported by this machine, with up to 250 sheets stored in the front hopper, but there’s also a manual paper feed slot for other sizes and envelopes. Printed pages emerge face-down from the top of the unit into a second paper hopper. An optional face-up paper tray is available for use with more dense paper types that can’t pass through the curved paper path.

The Epson EPL-5900 is supplied with a ‘starter’ toner cartridge that’s good for 3,000 pages. Upgrade cartridges will handle 6,000 pages while the imaging drum has to be replaced after 20,000 pages. As you’d expect, the standard printer emulations include PCL6 and PCL5e, plus Epson’s Esc/P2 and FX languages. An optional Postscript Level 3 module is available, but this requires an extra 32MB of printer memory (fortunately the printer can use standard SDRAM DIMMs). For users wanting to turn the EPL-5900 into a small workgroup printer, there’s a 10/100 Ethernet print server module available, which is a standard feature of the ‘N’ model.

Company: Epson

Contact: 0800 220 546


Verdict
The EPL-5900 seems to be robust enough to cope with an office environment. It's small, fast and produces good quality output. It's not really suitable for anything other than personal or (with the optional network module) small workgroup use, but the printer's features and capabilities are sufficient to justify the price tag.