Epson Stylus Photo PX700W printer review

4.5 out of 5
£195.73

For

Excellent photo print quality, fast set-up, good text output, connectivity

Against

Dust attracting plastic finish, muted scans, flimsy output trays

It takes around 10 minutes to setup the extremely stylish-looking PX700W, once it’s freed from its box; following the step-by-step approach to set-up makes it very easy to do and follow, making getting the thing going and connected very user friendly indeed. Although the plethora of buttons on the front that form the main control panel is a tad daunting at first.

Once up and running the PX700W has a basket full of features within its squared-off shiny-looking bodywork, so there’s plenty for you to play with, including Wi-Fi support for wireless, borderless A4 printing and individual ink tanks for more economical output as you need only replace the colour ink that has run out.

The PX700W uses Epson’s Claria photo ink system using six colours and is able to produce variable ink droplet sizes down to an extremely tiny, 1.5-picolitres, so, pardon the pun, is capable of very fine print indeed, on paper at least! Epson claim up to a 200-year permanence for its prints, using all-Epson inks and paper, of course, and with the resulting output kept under glass. Impressive stuff achieved using Epson’s accelerated testing methods, but either way, you’re unlikely to still be around to find out if it’s true.

The buttons on the printer’s face are largely for standalone printing, scanning and/or copying, of which you can do both colour and mono copies, and as such, the controls are pretty self-explanatory; on/off, print, scan or copy, etc. The very clear flip-up, 2.5-inch LCD sports a set of its own buttons which are used to change the view, crop them and view images by using the PhotoEnhance mode.

PhotoEnhance is built into the PX700W, usually it’s an option during image loading via the menu, here it’s an integral part of the device’s system and allows you to apply auto adjustments or even more usefully, allows control of basic enhancements such as brightness, sharpness, saturation and contrast. You can remove redeye too on the current image or apply it to a batch of images, so all good stuff.

The Wi-Fi side of the equation is great as it allows you to print, for example, without needing to be connected to the device via wire if you have a wireless network but it needs a little patience to set-up and get the thing connected but such wireless connectivity is now common across most printer makers.

Although the PX700W weighs in at almost 11kg, it has a reasonably small footprint and although that stylishly shiny black styling attracts dust, at least it’ll fit on your desk. This smaller footprint has been achieved partly thanks to the front-loading paper tray, the output trays are pretty flimsy however, but can be tidied away behind a flip up/down door when not in use.

The Claria ink technology used in the PX700W provides six separate inks; the usual cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks, with light cyan and magenta incorporated to help produce finer gradations within the print output. Epson claims the Claria inks provide good quality printing at low cost, the variable ink droplet sizes (droplet sizes are controlled using meniscus control afforded by the piezo ejection print system, common to Epson’s inkjets) allows the printer to produce larger ink drops for big areas of single colour, say, while smaller droplets are used for fine detail such as skin, hair or the like.

This means print speeds and ink use economy can be optimised across each print; the smallest 1.5-picolitre droplet size helps produce stunning detail the smallest droplet is just 1.5 billionth of a litre, allowing fine detail to be properly rendered in the final prints.

In terms of overall performance, for printing, the PX700W print driver menus have been updated, so you no longer have to go through three pages of bits before you get to the main engine room of print settings. Here you can adjust colour management, the colour profile applied, printing intent such as high quality photo, or graphics or text, for example. However, logically in my view, page set-up options are all still housed on a separate screen.

For the novice user there’s now a neat help panel explaining what each “toll” does as well making the thing even more user friendly this is also a nice touch. In terms of print times, Epson claims a maximum of 40 pages per minute for colour and mono text.

It takes around 3 minutes to print a top quality, borderless A4 colour photo, add in PhotoEnhance and you can add around a minute for the increases in processing time. But more impressive still is the “straight” print speed for a 6 x 4-inch print, with the machine left to its own devices, it can spit a rather good borderless photo out in just over 23 seconds, a speed and print quality that together are some of the best within the all-in-one market. To sum up, the colour handling is superb and the photo print output is excellent.

Text quality is good to at higher settings, but you’ll say goodbye to 40 pages per minute in order to get it, since Epson measures its print speeds in draft mode without the computer processing times involved either. Text print speeds are around eight pages per minute for mono and more impressively, around seven for colour text, though obviously this is nothing like the claimed 40 pages per minute.

In terms of scanning and copying, the install provides important options for use in Photoshop (including the latest version, CS4) and scans can be made at up to 2400 x 4800ppi. I found the colour however to be slightly muted compared with the originals although the level of detail captured and colour balance is excellent.

An auto scan feature makes scanning easy but watch out for originals with large areas of white space as this feature can “assume” there are multiple images on the platen and split the picture up. Manual control of this takes care of that but of course this means things are much slower since you’ll need to preview each scan before it starts.

Verdict

The Epson Stylus Photo PX700W provides a superb level of print quality and performance (overall) for the price; styling and design are also some of the best (if a little Canon Pixma-like) from Epson so far and means I can heartily recommend the Epson Stylus Photo PX700W.