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Epson Stylus Photo PX700W review


Review Date: 19 Dec 2008

Price when reviewed: £160


Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

User Rating 5 stars out of 5

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Epson's Stylus Photo PX700W is set to be the next big thing for home photo printing and archiving. This six-ink MFP follows in the footsteps of the RX685 and shares its awesome photo quality.

It has the features we've come to expect from an Epson photo MFP, including a 2½in colour screen, memory card slots and CD printing tray. Unfortunately, some moving and extending parts such as the output tray and angled control panel felt fragile and shifted too easily under even a light touch. The two-in-one front-loading paper tray can also take 6x4in, 7x5in or wide-format photo paper, so you don't have to empty out all your A4 paper to print a photo. Photo-printing costs work out at 20p for a 6x4in print, which is a reasonable price for home printing.

Once the driver and supporting applications have been installed, a wizard lets you choose from USB Hi-Speed, wired or wireless network installation. You can configure wireless settings automatically by connecting the printer to your PC with the provided USB lead, to your router via Ethernet or automatically with WiFi Protected Setup if your router supports it. You can also do it manually using the built-in display.

Once connected, our first step was to perform a print head alignment, which is available via the maintenance tab of the printer's Properties window. This expensive MFP relies on a manual print head alignment process that required us to select the most solid-looking coloured boxes on a printout.

This MFP is designed for photography enthusiasts and doesn't disappoint. Photo prints looked stunning, with bright colours, lifelike skin tones, intense dark tones, and no graininess. Our low-contrast test image looked a little dull at the default settings, but the Advanced menu includes a range of colour adjustment options that give you fine control over the appearance of prints. Photo printing was reasonably quick. Six 6x4in photos emerged in eight minutes and 15 seconds, and two 10x8in pictures on A4 took just over four minutes.

The scanner worked perfectly over our wireless network. A 600dpi scan of a 6x4in photo took just 27 seconds. Epson's excellent scanner driver makes it easy to optimise scan quality by adjusting the scan's colour or enabling software dust-removal. It automatically selected the scan area from the preview with great precision. Our scans were sharp, with an excellent range of colour and shading, but we would have preferred a scanner that could handle transparencies.

Based on past experience of Epson's photo printers, we weren't expecting much in terms of text quality. However, draft text printed at a fast 20ppm, completing our 25-page test in less than one and-a-quarter minutes. The resulting text was pale, but clear enough to be legible; this isn't good enough for formal correspondence, but it's fine for printing personal notes.

Standard quality text was a bit slower, but 8.5ppm isn't bad for correspondence-quality text and we had to wait only 14 seconds for the first page. The quality of the lettering wasn't as sharp as we'd have liked, but it was dark and easy to read. Mixed-colour document prints were similarly well defined, although there was a lack of intensity in dark colours. A colour print speed of 6.1ppm was impressive.

The PX700W is a worthwhile, but expensive, purchase if you need an MFP for image scanning and photo printing. Its standard print quality isn't bad, either, although it can't match the outstanding text quality of Canon's Pixma MX850. Its photo prints were superb and wireless configuration was effortless. Although we'd have preferred a scanner that can handle negatives, this MFP is still an excellent choice.

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