Printing at home is becoming big business. Realising that consumers don't necessarily want to print A4 images all the time, printer manufacturers are falling over themselves to bring small toaster sized printers to the market. Epson believes its solutions should be at the top of your list, but should it be? We put the printer to the test.
Larger and considerably heavier than the HP Photosmart 375, you can see why Epson has invested in a heavy-duty handle to carry it around. Why it's so heavy we're not quite sure, as there isn't anything more to this unit than the Photosmart. Weight aside the printer is cased in a dulled plastic and rather than opt for stylish lines or shiny casings, its clear from the outset that the Epson is here to get the job done without any fluff.
A couple of slides here and opening there and the printer is ready for use. There's a paper tray to collect your images, a form feeder to load in 6in x 4in paper and a cover to hide a bank of removable storage. Taking CompactFlash (I&II), xD-Picture Card, SmartMedia, SD Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, Magic Gate Memory Stick, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, IBM Microdrive. Adapter required for Mini SD Card and Memory Stick Duo. All the bases seem to be covered and like the Photosmart the unit doubles up as a memory card docking station when connected to a PC.
On the top there is a mono screen that allows direct printing of images from a memory card without the need to connect to a printer. A Bluetooth adapter means that you can print from any Bluetooth data enabled mobile phones or laptops. Like the Photosmart the addition of the adapter is an after thought and this time, rather than standing directly out from the printer towards you (as in the 375) the unit sticks upright like an antenna.
The menu system is fairly easy to master and gives you the ability to do all the usual things like printing out an index card, however the screen is mono and won't display images on it. You would think that with most of the competition sporting colour screen, albeit low resolution that it would feature one, but alas it doesn't.
We were decidedly disappointed with this model, which surprised us as many have said that they rate this among the best. Compared to the test prints we produced with the HP 375, the prints came across dulled in colour. Epson suggests that its print quality will last for over 100 years and this while we aren't about to hold off our review till the results come in giving it a good battering proved fruitless in our determination of scratching the print. Like the HP 375 we even gave to the dog to maul and that didn't reap any rewards either.