Although the official price for this all-in-one printer is £130, there are currently several outlets offering it for significantly less, which makes the Stylus Office BX310FN an attractive option for budget-conscious small businesses and home users.
This is a particularly compact and lightweight machine, measuring 535 x 475 x 295mm and weighing in at a shade under 10kg. Styled in conventional jet black, there’s an upright 120-sheet document feeder at the back and an additional 30-sheet automatic document feeder on top, complete with nifty fold-away input tray.
Unsurprisingly for this price bracket, you don’t get any kind of card reader or flash card USB port, and the LCD display is a simple 2-line text affair without backlight. This does mean that you’ll have to scroll through the option menu every time you want to change paper size, for example, and operating the menu is relatively cumbersome. However the control panel is clearly laid out for the four main functions, with an especially useful array of fax options, including five preset speed dials.
There are five separate ink cartridges (including, significantly, two black cartridges), all using Epson’s regular smudge-proof DURABrite Ultra Ink, and the bundled software includes the already highly rated Presto! PageManager 8 and Epson Easy Photo Print, as well as Epson Event Manager and Epson Web-To-Page; all well tried, tested and reliable.
In terms of performance, we were averaging 16ppm for Draft quality text documents and an only slightly slower 14ppm for standard text. On the photo side, A4 borderless photos at Best quality ran at a reasonable 7 minutes 15 seconds, while the equivalent for 10 x 15cm photos managed 3 minutes and 15 seconds (or 1 minute 30 seconds at the Basic setting).
As far as copying speeds were concerned, a 10 x 15cm image emerged after 2 minutes and an A4 basic photo in around 4 minutes 45 seconds. Scanning (which has an ultimate resolution of 1200 x 2400dpi) was also perfectly respectable and hit around the 50 second mark.
Quality, as you might expect for the price, was variable, but there were some noticeably triumphant results. Copies of A4 photos, for instance, remained remarkably close to the authentic colours of the originals, even though there was a certain lack of clarity. On the negative side, 10 x 15cm copies were far grainier, despite much higher quality prints straight from the PC. Curiously, scanned photos were distinctly paler overall and draft text documents had significant feathering.
Although there’s no wireless networking possible with this model, you do have an Ethernet connection as well as USB 2.0 and, considering all that you’re receiving for the cost, this is definitely worth investigating if you need multifunction capability.
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