As with most Epson printers we've tested over the years, the Stylus Photo PX820FWD is not as fast as the company claims in its literature. Speeds of 40ppm, even in draft mode, are not what you're likely to see in day-to-day use. Printing our five-page draft text document produced a speed of 15.8ppm, which it has to be said is very good for an inkjet printer, but falls short of the spec by a good margin.
Printing in normal mode cut the speed back to 6.4ppm on a five-page document and 7.7ppm on a 20-page one. These are again very commendable speeds and you wonder why Epson has to exaggerate, particularly when compared with rival inkjets.
The black text and colour graphics test produced 6.1ppm and when we switched in the automatic duplexer, which is standard on this printer, we still saw 4.4spm. While this isn't as fast as with the Dura-Brite pigmented inks in the Stylus Office BX625FWD – the Claria inks in this machine are dye-based – it’s still respectable, when compared with most other duplexing inkjets.
Print quality is OK, though not as sharp as with its major competitors. Text shows some jaggedness caused by ink bleed, which you can see when you look closely with the naked eye. Draft text is very light, but still readable and a fair compromise with the printer’s excellent speed.
Colour print on plain paper is reasonably bright and attractive, and on photo paper this machine, like its stablemates, continues to give some of the best image prints in the business. Colours are natural and well balanced and there are good levels of detail throughout the saturation range.
The six ink cartridges are available in two yields, though only the lower yield ‘hummingbird’ cartridges are available in a six-pack. Using the individual, high-yield cartridges gives a cost per page of 3.1p for black and 10.3p the colour, both including 0.7p for paper. These costs are reasonable for black, but a little high for colour, as there are six to factor in.
As a top-of-the-range inkjet all-in-one, there aren't many other extras you could ask for. With duplex print, CD/DVD direct print, six colours, an ADF and wireless connection it can handle both photo enthusiast and home office work with aplomb. You do pay quite a bit for these extra facilities, though, and if you're after top quality plain paper print as well as photos, the Stylus Photo PX820FWD may not be the ideal choice.