When you glance at the current crop of Epson Stylus printers, it’s often hard at first glance to tell them apart. They’re all jet black, relatively compact, rectangular, low to the ground and generally good value for money. It’s often just the presence of an automatic document feeder on the top that sets one class apart from another.
However, Epson’s Stylus Photo PX660 All-in-One printer might be even more difficult to pick out from the crowd, as in both looks and features it’s well-nigh indistinguishable from its immediate predecessor, the Stylus Photo PX650. The dimensions (451 x 386 x 195mm) and weight (8.5kg) differ only fractionally while the essential layout is identical.
There’s a 120-sheet A4 input tray at the back, a large tilting control panel at the front with a separate row beneath for inputs including Compact Flash memory cards, a multi-card slot (for Memory Sticks, SD and xD-Picture card, etc.) and a USB port for flash drives and PictBridge enabled cameras. At the base is a drop-down output tray together with a socket for the DVD/CD tray to be inserted for printing labels directly on to disc. As with the PX650, the PX660 has no Wi-Fi capability, so connection to a PC is via the usual USB cable.
Although the control panels of the two printers might also initially appear the same, there has been a shift in emphasis. The 6.3cm colour LCD remains unchanged but there’s now a number of big brightly backlit controls on either side as part of a smart-navigation touch-panel rather than physical buttons. This makes scanning through the menus and choosing your options quicker and more efficient, though it’s a shame that you now have to delve into the menus before accessing memory card images rather than having a dedicated button.
The plus side is that you can print off your photos without having to feed them through a PC or Mac, yet you also have the Easy Photo Print software if you want to fine-tune everything via a computer. When it comes to speed, even when you put aside the expected overestimated claims, the PX660 still manages a pretty solid performance: 18ppm for draft black text documents, 5ppm for normal A4 text, 1 minute 55 seconds for A4 colour prints and copies and 24 seconds for 10 x 15cm colour prints.
As for picture quality, we were particularly impressed by the sharpness of the images and although original photos showed a tendency to paleness and a noticeable pink tinge, we were able to make use of the new Photo Enhance facility to colour correct to a much closer assimilation. Interestingly, while copies also showed a slight leaning towards underexposure, they were certainly more faithful to the originals than the output from other machines in this class of printer.
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