The RX640 follows a lineage of AIOs from Epson that has seen the range grow from the RX600 and the RX500, RX520 through to the RX620, this, the RX640 and of course the range topping and previously tested RX700.
So there’s no doubt that the range is popular and the march of the AIO machines continues apace as it does across most printer manufacturers. Like its forbears, design-wise the 640 is an A4 flatbed scanner – with integrated film/negative scanner – sitting atop an A4, piezo-ejection type, inkjet printer with memory card reader slots for all the current crop of popular memory cards. These include MicroDrives and xD Picture Card, CF Type I/II, SmartMedia, Memory Stick (including MagicGate, Memory Stick PRO), SD/MMC but with an optional adapter required for miniSD, Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo.
A sloped face plate (above the paper/media out tray) houses a neat colour screen, a range of simple to use circular and cross-style controls and below, the aforementioned card reader that’s hidden beneath a flip-out, smoked, clear-plastic lid.
The 640 arrives in the box complete with a pre-installed USB cable for quick PC connection and printing via a PC and is straightforward enough to get started printing – once the accompanying software is installed and you’ve aligned the print heads properly and once the ink’s are slotted home in the print head.
The memory card reader and PictBridge capability mean printing from a memory cards, guided by some neat menus on the colour screen, is simple (though scrolling through loads of images on a card is quite slow) and printing directly from compatible PictBridge/USB DirectPrint cameras is quick and easy – once connected using the dedicated USB1.1 port for such devices. Incidentally, the USB connection to PC is USB2.0 (the High Speed type) so much more sprightly.
Scanning is one of the RX-series machines strong suits and the 640 does not let the side down with 3200 x 6400ppi resolution making the most of any 35mm film, negatives (6-frames in film strips or up to four mounted 35mm slides) or flat originals (up to A4) you care to pop under the hood. 48-bit depth means there’s plenty of colour data to grab a hold of later (in editing software for example) and the DMax of 3.1 provides plenty of latitude for shadow and highlights.
The scanner also becomes the copier element for the 640’s ensemble but lets the side down somewhat when copying basic paper originals: colours seem very muted (compared to my originals) and greens are particularly poorly handled. This was a surprise, as the RX600 (which I own) and the RX700 (tested recently) display none of these copy-mode flaws. But having said that, the copier’s Reprint & Restore Photo Mode restored my faith somewhat as it actually works well, but you’re starting with a better original, well … usually.
Another neat trick is the CD/DVD blank printing. This does need a fair amount of setting up to get right (and some blank CDs or DVDs of course) but allows you to get funky designs onto your backed up data discs – or whatever it is you are burning on them. Set-up requires a special CD/DVD mount adapter (supplied in the box, of course) to be slotted into place once the main output tray has been flipped out of the way.
But the key to the RX640 is its photo quality output, and like its 600-series forbears, does not disappoint. Six individual ink tanks house the usual cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks with a light cyan and magenta thrown in for dealing with lighter colours or fine detail areas. Print resolution of up to an enhanced 5760dpi provides for some excellent but slow output in the Photo RPM mode. The amount of extra detail or colour this adds (compared with the non-enhanced Best Photo mode) is not always visible in the finished print, it makes print times very long and it uses more ink.
However, borderless prints look great, fine detail is well rendered thanks to the Variable Sized droplet and Ultra Micro Dot technology that allows ink droplets as small as 1.5-picolitres. Nevertheless, disappointingly text print is a tad fluffy round the edges and worth bearing in mind if you want this double as an office printer.
While the RX640 might be slower than its claimed print speeds (21-ppm for economy mode is fairly accurate however) and text is a little on the furry side, for top quality photos and great scanning it’s certainly worth the wait.