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All-in-one printers, as the name suggests, offer several separate functions in a single, relatively small-footprint device. A general-purpose all-in-one, like Epson's Stylus DX8400, provides printing, scanning, copying and photo printing, yet only occupies slightly more room than a single-function printer.
Epson has chosen a high-gloss, bluey-grey livery for this compact machine, with highlights in silver and black. It's managed to reduce the overhang of the paper feed and output trays by holding paper at a close-to-vertical angle at the rear and mounting the print heads well to the back of the machine, so that output pages only protrude a short way onto the telescopic output tray.
The CCD-based scan-head is surprisingly slim, so the height of the casing can be kept down. Lift the whole scanner unit and you get good access to the four, separate DURABrite Ultra ink cartridges. DURABrite Ultra ink is pigment-based, which means it has better water and light resistance than dye-based inks.
The machine's control panel, down the left-hand side, has a straightforward layout including mode buttons, a ring of navigation arrows and a big Start button for copies and scans. The 63mm LCD display at the rear folds upwards for better viewing, but feels a little rickety when moved.
Twin memory card sockets lie to the left of the output tray, which take all the common types, including MicroDrive, and there's a PictBridge socket for camera connection, too. At the back, a USB 2.0 socket is the only way of connecting the machine to a PC.
Software is fairly standard fare for an all-in-one printer, and includes Abbyy OCR and Epson's own utilities for copying, Web print and dealing with RAW images from cameras. The driver supports standard features such as multiple pages per sheet and manual duplexing.
Epson does at least admit its speed claims are for the fastest available print mode, but speeds of 32ppm for both colour and black print are still outlandish. Our five-page text document took 1min 21secs to print in normal mode, which most people will use most of the time, and the five-page text and graphics page completed in 1mins 38secs. These times give speeds of 3.7ppm and 3.1ppm, respectively, around a 10th of the quoted speeds.
All this folly over quoted print speeds could be solved at a stroke if printer makers quoted speed for printing a standard page. Something like one of the ISO pages used in producing page-yield figures would be a good starting point.
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