Epson's six-colour PX830FWD is designed to produce top quality hard copies of your snaps, while also putting business features like copying and faxing at your fingertips.
It can be bought online for around £190, which is relatively affordable, especially as it includes Wi-Fi and supports two-sided printing.
Design and features
As all-in-one machines go, the PX830FWD is a fairly attractive-looking printer. Epson has used a glossy black finish on the front and top, while the side panels have a matte coating. Although the chassis is made entirely from plastic, it does feel reasonably well built. One aspect of the design that I particularly like is that you can fold the control panel down and flip up a lid at the bottom to cover the paper trays so that machine takes up less space when not in use.
The control panel is quite large and only has one physical button for turning the printer on and off. All the other features are handled by a combination of the large colour touchscreen and touch buttons that are positioned to the right and left of the display. The user interface could be presented better as some of the menus are not that easy to understand. But on the whole, this model is relatively simple to operate.
The PX830FWD has a multi-format memory card reader supporting not just SD and Memory Stick cards, but CF cards too. There's also a PictBridge-compatible USB port, so you can print pictures directly from compatible cameras.
The automatic document feeder that sits on top of the scanner allows you to fax or scan multi-page documents, without having to go through the hassle of placing each sheet on the scanner's surface. The paper tray at the bottom has two compartments -- one for A4 sheets and a secondary one for photo paper. This is handy as it means you don't have to constantly load and unload the paper when you want to switch to photo printing.
The capacity of the trays isn't massive -- the A4 compartment can only take 140 sheets at a time, while the photo paper compartment holds a maximum of 20 sheets. Printed output is fed onto a telescopic tray, which feels a tad flimsy -- a common problem on many of these multi-function models.
Along with USB, this model has an Ethernet port on the rear and built-in Wi-Fi, so you can either hook it up directly to your PC or share it with multiple devices on your network. The latter is preferable -- using Epson's free apps, you can print wirelessly from iOS or Android phones and tablets. What's more, when the printer is hooked into your network, you can use Epson's email printing service to email jobs to the printer from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Setting up the PX830FWD is very quick and easy as the installation wizard gives you step-by-step instructions. It's simple to install the ink cartridges as you lift the scanner mechanism and slot each of the five cartridges into the bays provided. There's an audible click once they're firmly in place, so you really can't go wrong.
Scanning and copying
The scanner has a resolution of 4,800x4,800dpi and produces good results, retaining pretty accurate colours compared to the original and doing a decent job of capturing fine detail. The automatic document feeder will also be appreciated by those who frequently need to scan or fax multi-page documents.
This model's scanner is reasonably quick and this helps the printer produce speedy photocopies. It took just 16 seconds to copy our black and white test page, which was admirably close to the original in terms of sharpness and ink density.
Print speed, quality and cost
This model isn't particularly fast when it comes to text printing. It produced my 10-page text document in 1 minute 26 seconds and took 2 minutes 42 seconds to print a double-sided version of the same document. Both of these speeds are middling. Thankfully, it's much, much faster at graphics and photo printing.
It pumped out my business presentation test in a mere 1 minute 39 seconds and took just 1 minute 47 seconds to complete my 10-page graphics test. Both of those times are close to the fastest I've seen from a multi-function inkjet model. Photo printing was also lightning quick as it produced my 4x6-inch snap in an astonishing 28 seconds.
Printing quality is mixed though. Text on the page looks less dark and refined than I would like, and if you look closely, you can see feathering around the edges of some letters. There is also some banding on large blocks of colour in my business presentation, although the graphics test looks crisp and detailed, with bold colours. Photo prints are quite impressive though, with the extra inks at this model's disposal helping it to produce natural skin tones and subtle shading in areas of the image with trickier lighting.
Print costs are relatively high. Using the larger-capacity cartridges bought from the Epson website, it works out at 3.4p for a black and white page and 9.5p for a colour sheet, with both of those prices including 0.7p for paper. By comparison, Kodak's Office Hero 6.1, one of the cheapest models to run, works out at 2.3p and 3.8p per page respectively.
I like the Epson PX830FWD's speedy colour printing and it offers a good range of features for a relatively modest asking price. Its running costs are quite high though, and its text print quality could be better.