Consumers on the hunt for a budget all-in-one printer for the small business or home office have plenty of choice right now, with major manufacturers competing for their cash. To stand out from the herd, companies like Epson need to come up with something eye-catching. The Stylus Office BX305FW adds fax capabilities to the usual print, copy and scan functions, with up to 60 names and numbers available on a speed dial list.
Light and compact
The machine itself comes in the usual all-black livery, and is handily light and compact, weighing 7.1kg without ink cartridges and power cable, and measuring 460x411x235mm (wdh). On top is an Automatic Document Feeder with a 30-sheet capacity. There’s also a single fold-back input tray at the back which can comfortably take 120 sheets, but no option to expand beyond that with bottom trays, as the more recent Canon PIXMA range have used.
The control panel is fixed and angled at about 45 degrees at the front – shame it wasn’t hinged for greater flexibility and neatness – and the clearly marked buttons and number pad are easy to use.
A two-line text LCD screen is the main focus for setting up the menu options, and again the instructions are very straightforward. Two significant features that are missing here, though, are memory card slots and a USB flash drive input. On the other hand, a major plus is the ability to use Wi-Fi connectivity instead of the standard USB cable, to attach the device to your PC.
The Stylus Office BX305FW uses four separate ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, yellow). These offer greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness than combined cartridges, as each ink can be replaced individually as it runs out. Epson’s DURABrite Ultra Inks are specifically designed to be fast drying and smudge-free.
The quality of standard black text documents is well above average with no evidence of breaks, feathering or smears, while the draft version is readable but considerably fainter. We were very pleasantly surprised by the authentic colours and sharpness of photos at the lighter end of the spectrum (less so at the darker extreme).
Copies of A4 photos were particularly hard to differentiate from the originals. There was a slight tendency towards warmer tones (equally so in scans), but for portraits this was generally an advantage.
Less impressive was the Epson’s speed. You might as well go and make several cups of coffee while you’re waiting for prints to emerge. Apart from draft-quality black text, which came out in a reasonable 17ppm, output was very slow. Standard text barely scraped 5ppm, and if you want a best-quality A4 colour print, you’ll be yawning for 12 minutes. Even 10x15cm prints dawdled out in a lethargic 2 mins 20s.
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