Do you remember the days when printers used to be large lumps of featureless metal that sat in the corner of your study or office and just blandly churned out swathes of A4 text documents? Well thankfully those days are dead and buried as today’s manufacturers are just as interested in producing multimedia eye-candy as solid work horses.
Epson’s Stylus Photo PX710W is a perfect illustration. For a start, it’s remarkably slim for a full-scale printer, measuring only 150mm in height, and its glossy black exterior wouldn’t look out of place next to your hi-fi system rather than a filing cabinet.
You have Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB connections and the front control panel can be tilted up to 90 degrees. The control buttons are large and clearly labelled and navigating the operational menus via the 6.3cm colour LCD in the centre is simplicity itself, offering both the standard copy, scan and print modes as well as the chance to produce colouring books, lined/graph paper and backup data to a memory stick or DVD.
Although this machine is primarily designed for photo printing, there’s an in-built CD/DVD tray that folds out neatly from above the main photo trays. The bottom tray holds a maximum of 120 A4 sheets and there’s a separate smaller tray above which can be used for 10 x 15cm photos. That’s substantially low capacity for bulk document printing but it does mean you don’t have to stop and reload when switching from photo to text.
As you’d expect from such a classy multifunction printer, you can also input photos via memory card slots (all standard formats supported) and USB (for flash cards and PictBridge-enabled cameras), plus the included optical character recognition software allows for text scanning.
Now for the crunch issue: how fast does this machine perform and what of the quality of the images? This is where so many All-in-Ones disappoint but the PX710W is a surprising exception, thanks in no small measure to the six separate cartridge Claria Photographic Ink system. 10 x 15cm standard prints were shooting out at an average 10 seconds each, with Best quality at an equally impressive 1 minute and 15 seconds.
A4 photos of Best quality using the USB port and a flash card still only took 2 minutes 50 seconds and a standard A4 image copy was finished within a minute; and apart from a marginal softening and hint of yellow wash, was virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Draft A4 text documents emerged at a rate of 25ppm (well below the claimed max of 40ppm) and were noticeably faint but standard text documents were clear and solid, averaging a reasonable 10ppm. The chances are you’re not going to use the PX710W as your principal printer for high volume document printing, but in terms of the degree of colour vibrancy, authenticity and sharpness of the photo prints, there are few equals in this class.
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