Epson Stylus Photo PX730WD review

AirPrint is a mere distraction on this quality photo printer for the home
Photo of Epson Stylus Photo PX730WD
£259.99

Epson’s latest printer may be provisionally aimed at iDevice owners, but it’s D-SLR owners that are the real benefactors. The lab-quality photos is the carrot offered by Epson here. The mid-priced option from its Stylus Photo line-up does indeed deliver a convincing argument, for home printing.

The promise of great quality prints is no longer enough in this market. We now consider WiFi and networking essential – only after scanning and copying – but we’re less sure about the AirPrint function. Epsom’s PX730WD allows for direct printing from iDevices, either through the native software, or via Epson’s option-packed Epson iPrint app. This is while shipping with Epson Connect remote printing, with a sign-up to configure a personal email address for your printer. After then, you can send documents as attachments to the device, where it’ll print them even if you’re on the other side of the planet – if the printer has been networked properly.

The latter of which should be easy, as the PX730WD is simple to set-up. Within seconds, we got the PX730WD on our network and were soon able to print from both a Windows-based netbook and a desktop iMac. The hub is a 63mm colour LCD screen, though it’s not a touch-panel. Instead, there are some directional keys alongside navigating through the main functions. As well as skipping between scanning, copying and printing from a memory card or via USB (photos are displayed on the LCD screen), there’s an option to print ruled paper. This is coupled with a rather pointless ‘colouring book’ feature that appears only to scan drawings, though it does this to both paper and memory cards.

Physically, the PX730WD measures 445x150x458mm and weights 9.8kg, making it oversized for a desktop, albeit low-rise. Paper can be loaded into two separate trays, both of which can take photo paper of various sizes, with printing resolutions at 5760×1440 dpi.

Scanner-copier

After about 20 seconds of prep, a single A4 page takes the PX730WD’s top loading scanner-copier 12 seconds to copy, in both colour and in black and white. The results for the latter outshining the colour-copy, as this seems drained and dull when compared to the original.

Scanning, which is at a maximum of 2400×4800 dpi, can be done to a PC or Mac on the same network – in JPEG or PDF, as well as to a docked memory card. In our tests it averaged 13 seconds per scan in high resolution, and though it’s flexible, the rather flat hinges makes book scanning tricky, but the results are pleasingly sharp.

Speed & performance

In our tests we managed to get the PX730WD to spill-out at a rate of around 11 pages, per minute, based on the draft quality ‘economy’ mode. After a typical five-or-so seconds of communication between our iMac and the PX730WD, a two-page black and white text-only document took just six seconds to print, in fast economy mode. The results are very pale, with some parts of pictures and large fonts completely missing, but the smaller text is readable and certainly good enough for proofreading duties. In normal mode, the same document took 15 seconds, while in fine mode it was closer to 55. This came with very dark results, though immaculate, it is overkill for pure text. An automatic duplex version in fast economy mode took 28 seconds.

The two-page full-colour document featuring both texts, graphics and some photographs took 15 seconds in fast economy mode. These results were washed out, with some graphics striped, blocky or missing. The immaculate fine ‘rich’ mode took just over a minute, and one and a half minutes in the automatic duplex mode. This was again in fine quality, with 30 seconds per page, with the rest of the time was spent on page-drying and turning.

In our tests, a 6×4-inch picture on Epson’s glossy photo paper took one minute to print; 11 seconds in the maximum quality mode where the results were truly excellent, with well-saturated blocks of colouring showing bags of detail within a natural-looking print.

Although it’s hardly a silent operator, the PX730WD is reasonably quiet as it gets about its business – even the nozzle check and head cleaning process is short and not the unholy noise it so often is on other printers.

Ink yields & costs

The PX730WD uses Epson’s six-strong Claria Photographic Ink, which is all about nuanced colour printing – and it doesn’t come cheap. Multi-packs sell for £59.10, while an Owl set of higher yield inks sell for a total of £82.20. Owl inks can produce 520 pages, so a single page costs under 16p, though paper costs will push this upwards. 

Company: Epson

Website: http://www.epson.co.uk/

Contact: 0871 4237766

Positives
  • Easy set-up; quality of printed photographs; Mac and PC-friendly.
Negative
  • Pricey to maintain; desktop footprint.

Verdict

Home printing is still all about simplicity of use and the quality of results – and PX730WD trumps both those tests. Easy to set-up and boasting a good build quality, this flexible home and home office printer is well priced. Its PC and Mac-friendly nature, together with immensely detailed though natural-looking photographic results, make this a great option for networked homes.