Epson Stylus Photo PX830FWD printer review

All-in-one inkjet printer with WiFi, AirPrint and iPhone app
Photo of Epson Stylus Photo PX830FWD printer
£299.99

Aimed at photographers wanting to print in top quality, Epson’s latest six-colour home inkjet printer is also packed with features for small offices, too. Top of the tree is WiFi connectivity, though the 465x458x198mm PX830FWD’s versatility is borne out by its ability to work with a PC (XP onwards) or Mac (OS 10.4.11), and both smartphones and tablets of all flavours – especially important nowadays with many a household straddling different devices and straddling operating systems.

Design and features
A four-in-one whose design incorporates printing, scanning, copying and faxing, the PX830FWD has a smaller sibling, the PX730FWD (£259.99), which is identical (it even includes WiFi) save for its lack of fax and high-definition printing.

Equipped with two paper trays (one below a titling touchscreen, and one on top of the PX830FWD’s scanner lid that, when opened, stylishly flips down to create the output tray) able to hold 120 A4 sheets or 20 photo sheets, its media tray provides dedicated and easily understood compartments for 10x15cm and 13x18cm photo paper. The Epson also handles  double-sided ‘duplex’ printing, which massively extends its creativity options – and to us seems an essential feature for anyone with eco-friendlier ambitions to save paper.

Easy WiFi setup
Cranking up the PX830FWD takes a little time. Switching on kick-starts a lengthy initialisation process that stretches beyond five minutes, though its huge 198x60mm touchscreen makes the rest of the process a breeze.

Kudos to Epson for creating the very easy ‘Epson Connect’ WiFi setting; we attached the PX830FWD to our WiFi network in minutes, and were printing from both a PC and a Mac shortly after. That’s a refreshing change from most printers, and that convenience carries over to smartphones and tablets, too. A quite brilliant free app called Epson iPrint, tested on an iPhone 3GS, allowed us to connect automatically to the PX830FWD and send it photos from our phone. Complete with an ink monitor page and settings that cover printing documents (from your phone, Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox or Box.net), website pages, or from the product’s scanner – as well as from a phone’s photos library, obviously – the app is addictively good. So good, in fact, that it’s tempting to use it as your main controller for the PX830FWD despite the supplied suite of Epson-made software (comprising as Easy Photo Print, Print CD, Event Manager, Fax Utility and ABBYY FineReader OCR software). We also used an iPhone’s native AirPrint option to print straight from an iPhone’s built-in Photo app – though it’s not nearly as comprehensive as Epson’s own app.

If you want to print from a camera memory card, there’s a selection of slots beside the paper tray that cover SD, xD, MSPro and CF cards, with a recessed USB slot also offered for thumb drives – thought it can’t be used to print directly from a camera using PictBridge

In our test we managed to print a few pictures from a USB stick, even using a PhotoEnhance setting to successfully remove some red-eye. Choosing which photo you want to print, then selecting paper/size/quality options, is helped hugely by the LCD touchscreen, though only a portion of the screen is touch-sensitive.

The scanner proved a breeze to operate, as did the fax feature, though it’s the PX830FWD’s claim to produce better-than-lab quality from photos that we were most interested in.

Speed and image quality
Photos, this printer’s raison d’etre (it’s capable of 5,760×1,440 resolution prints), are quickly produced; in fine quality – surely the default setting on a printer with such high claims. A 10x15cm photo took 32 seconds (just 18 seconds were spent actually printing), a 13x18cm took 39 seconds, and a full A4 page in 1:23 (or 3:20 at the highest quality setting). Quality-wise, it’s an exacting performance, with spot-on colour saturation, with fine detailing across bold, vivid prints that demonstrate plenty of contrast.

General office duties are reasonably quick, too. We printed a 10-page photos-and-text document in ‘fast economy’ colour in exactly one minute, while the same document took 6:25 to print in the far superior ‘fine’ setting (‘economy’ and ‘normal’ are also available) – that’s about 34 seconds per page. It took 1:02 in fast economy black and white (far below Epson’s claim of 40 pages per minute). Each document took an initial 14 seconds to begin printing on the PX830FWD, which is included in our results.

Duplex printing is very slow, though it works well. A 12-page document containing text and photos, printed on both sides of six A4 pages, took exactly 5:05 in both ‘normal’ black and white, and in colour.

Quality across the board is excellent with no noticeable colour banding, and clear, readable text throughout, though draft quality is exceptionally loud.

Epson PX830FWD photo inks

Ink yields and costs
The PX830FWD uses six dye-based Hummingbird Claria photographic inks – black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta. One of each is included in the box, while additional multi-packs sell for £59.10, while an Owl set of higher yield inks sell for a total of £82.20.

Although yields are different for each ink, black and cyan Owl inks are rated to empty after 520 pages, making a single page cost just under 16p before any replacements need to be made. Add that to the 86p Epson charges for its own A4 premium glossy paper and the PX830FWD isn’t cheap to run – though it doesn’t claim to be, and photo paper can be bought cheaper.

Company: Epson

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

Contact: Epson on 0871 4237766

Positives
  • Ease of set-up/use across a home networtk, quality of photos, iPhone app, all-in-one features.
Negative
  • Expensive inks, loud when printing in draft quality.

Verdict

User-friendly and useful around the home whatever device you happen to be using, it's this phone, tablet and Mac-friendly printer's headline act - hi-definition colour printing - that carries it through. Strapped with a touchscreen and a quick scanner and faxer, a small office/home office future awaits the PX830FWD, though for networked home it's hard to resist.