Gone are the days when you needed three different pieces of equipment to do your printing, scanning and copying. But as the all-in-one market continues to expand, it’s often difficult to decide between so many similar products, except on the obvious factors like price and specialisation.
Epson’s Stylus Photo series has the advantage of having already built an established reputation for high quality image reproduction and, since many of its recent printers feature its innovative Claria Photographic ink (which ‘guarantees’ smudge and fade-free durability for up to 200 years), the results are likely to be good.
The RX560 continues the current trend for six individual ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan and light magenta) which means greater authenticity and cheaper replacement costs (averaging £6.99 per cartridge). Again, Epson’s established Advanced Variable Sized Droplet Technology uses a range from 1.5pl for areas where fine detail is required, to larger droplets where there are blocks of colour, resulting in smoother gradations and tones.
The design of the RX560 is slightly peculiar, however, as the front juts out towards you like the prow of a ship, with the memory card holder angled away from you underneath. The other annoyance is the positioning of the USB port inside the machine under the scanning screen, which effectively shortens the length of the USB lead from printer to computer.
These physical irritations aside, the major attraction of this all-in-one is the ability to dispense with a PC almost entirely. You can connect your digital camera directly via PictBridge, insert a memory card in the holder, connect an external source (such as a mobile phone) via an optional Bluetooth adapter or simply place a print or slide on the scanner.
Then you view your prints via the 2.5-inch LCD screen and resize, crop, edit, remove red-eye and add funky frames using the built-in Print Image Framer and PhotoEnhance technology. PhotoEnhance is particularly useful as it can improve tones and contrast as well as refreshing colours on faded prints. Once completed, you can either export your images to a PC, print them out or save them to CD or DVD using the included template.
Print speed is a pleasing 30ppm for text and 13 seconds per 10 x 15cm (4 x 6-inch) photo. Print quality for text is considerably less authentic and sharp but the 5,760 x 1,440dpi achievable on photos is impressive. Surprisingly, there aren’t separate black ‘n’ white and colour buttons for copying and scanning – these options have to be approached via the LCD menu – but again, the 1,200 x 2,400dpi is the current standard.
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