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The humble inkjet printer has been rather overshadowed in recent times by the all-doing multi-function machine. For those who don't need scanning and copying, but would like to focus on photo reproduction at up to A4, it's still possible to get a dedicated printer, like this Stylus Photo 360 from Epson, at well under £100.
The most noticeable aspect of this machine is its large, 89mm colour LCD display, set into the middle of its front panel. This gives you a very good idea of what a printed photo will look like, when it's taken from a camera memory card. Ranged around the display are four buttons for calling up menus, and as well the usual five button ring for menu navigation.
Below the display, under a swivelling cover, are two memory card slots which take SD, MemoryStick, xD and CompactFlash cards. To the left of these card readers is a separate socket for a PictBridge camera connection, set quite deep into the printer's front panel.
Below the card reader there's a fold down front cover, behind which is the telescopic output tray. Pull it out and fold up a similar cover at the rear, which becomes the input paper tray, and you have the straight-through paper path favoured by Epson. A lever at the front lifts the output tray so you can use the optional CD/DVD holder for printing disc labels.
At the rear are sockets for power and USB 2.0 cables, the only connection option provided on the Stylus Photo R360.
The Stylus Photo R360 is a six-colour printer, with light cyan and light magenta inks added to the normal CMYK set. All six ink cartridges clip into the large piezoelectric head, which is a permanent fitting. It takes around two minutes to charge the heads when you first install the tanks.
Software installation is straightforward and Epson provides a number of useful applets such as its Web Print utility, which prevents the right-hand edges of web pages being chopped off.
Epson rates the printer at 30 pages per minute (ppm) in both black and colour modes. As far as we can see, this bears no relation to what you can expect to see from this machine. In normal print mode our five page text document completed in one minute 39 seconds, a tad over 3ppm. Our five-page, mixed text and graphics document took one minute 59 seconds, just under 2.5ppm. Both these speeds are slow, even for a printer intended primarily for producing photos.