Summary

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7/10

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Epson Stylus Photo RX640

After the successful launch of the RX520, a photo-targeted all-in-one device, Epson has come up with its larger, more capable cousin, the RX640. As well as being able to print, scan and copy, this machine can upload or print from memory cards or a PictBridge camera, scan and print transparencies and negatives, and print to CD or DVD blanks. It also prints in six colours, compared with the RX520’s four.

Adopting the conventional design for a multi-function device, with a flat-bed scanner mounted above an ink-jet print engine, the RX640 feeds paper from a 100-sheet feed tray at the rear to a telescopic output tray which extends from the front, once the front cover is opened.

Just above this cover is the memory card reader, with a swivel down, smoked plastic cover. It can read all the common types of card, including MicroDrive and xD. The control panel is comprehensive, with arrays of buttons in circles and crosses and a big one to start jobs. It’s easy to get the machine to do what you want.

The RX640 comes with its USB cable pre-plugged, so all you need do is connect the other end to your PC and plug in the mains cable. Software installation is a bit longer-winded than some, as it includes Arcsoft PhotoImpression for photo and scanning support and several useful Epson applets.
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Printing from a PC is straightforward and printing directly from photos on a memory card or in a digital camera is well guided via the RX640’s excellent, 63mm, bright LCD display. Scanning and copying are also pretty simple and you can scan from transparencies or negative strips, using the supplied holder.

Printing directly to CD needs a bit of setting up, by flicking the output tray into a secondary position and slotting in a disc holder, again included in the box. You’ll also need special CD blanks, of course, which are designed for ink-jet printing. These are coming down in price, though they’re currently around 25p per disc for well-known brands.

Print output quality falls into two parts: plain paper and photos. Printing black text on office paper produces a slightly irregular look to the text and when looked at under a magnifier, the print is not as smooth as, for example, from the Canon Pixma MP170. It’s still good enough for most general-purpose printing, though, and photo printing is the RX640’s primary mission.

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