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Straight photo printers, rather than All-in-One machines with scanners and memory card slots still have their market, though a reducing one. Epson has refreshed its range recently and the Stylus Photo R285 is the replacement for the R265. It's a six-colour printer, intended primarily to print photos. It has a fast, black text print, though not as fast as Epson would have you believe.
Styled in a simple, functional way, more Dell than Apple, the Stylus Photo R285 is coloured black and silver, with a set of three control buttons and indicators at the extreme left of its front panel. The icons on two of the buttons are not overprinted in white, so are difficult to read.
The design of the paper path is conventional, with a fold-up paper support at the rear and a pull-out, telescopic output tray at the front. The separate CD/DVD holder slots into this output tray, once you've removed the tray from its default position and slotted it into a secondary position, so it projects horizontally from the front of the machine.
At the back are sockets for a mains cable - the power supply is internal - and a USB socket. USB 2.0 is the only data connection provided.
The supplied software installs very smoothly and includes basic photo editing and management applications that we've seen before from Epson. Fitting the six ink cartridges into the printer's head is also not taxing, as they simply slot down and clip into place.
We know we keep banging on about printer specs and how little resemblance they bear to what typical customers will see, but claims for this machine have reached a new height of hype. Epson claims a print speed of 37ppm for black and 38ppm for colour for the Stylus Photo R285. That's about as fast as the Xerox Phaser 6360V/N we reviewed a couple of months ago. The 6360 is a workgroup colour laser printer, with an RRP of over £1,000. So is this £70 inkjet really going to tussle with it on print speed?
No, most of the time it's going to produce about 4.4ppm, which is what it did in our black text print - the text and graphics print gave an even slower 3.4ppm. If you print in draft mode, which you might choose, for example, to print text from Wikipedia for your own reference, you can achieve 37ppm, but only by printing pages of around half a dozen lines. To quote a speed on the box and the printer, which most customers will rarely see is misleading.