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What kind of all-in-one printer can you get for £45? If you’re buying Epson, the answer is really quite a reasonable device, but with some shortcomings. At this price, we’re definitely in the home market for the occasional black or colour print and perhaps a few photos from your digital snaps. It might also suit a secondary school student and can, of course, handle colour photocopies as well as printing and scanning.
A conventional, black box design is lightened by a pattern of textured dots across the lid of the scanner and the control panel, mounted to its left. It's very surprising to see a full-colour LCD display set into the middle of the controls. Although it's small, it’s big enough to be used to display photo thumbnails and choose menu options.
There are four mode buttons behind the LCD, including specific options to print photos and to print an index sheet from a memory card. A single card slot in the front, left corner takes SD, MemoryStick and xD cards. In front of the LCD is a convenient button to switch between A4 and 15 x 10cm paper.
Both paper types feed from a steeply angled, three-stage telescopic paper tray at the back to a horizontal, four-stage tray at the front. There's only a single USB socket at the back, as the machine has no network capabilities, either cabled or wireless. It does have an internal power supply, though, so there’s no power block kicking around under the desk.
One thing missing from the control panel is a maintenance button for running print checks or changing cartridges, and you need to know the magic shortcut of pressing the Index Sheet and Scan buttons together to reach the maintenance menu – shame it’s not marked on the panel.
Fitting and replacing cartridges is easy, as the four ‘cheetah’ units plug directly into their places in the head carrier. In passing, it’s worth mentioning what a good idea it is to give each range of cartridges a big bold visual image like a bird or animal and to label the printer with the same picture. It’s so much easier when shopping for replacements to look for a cheetah, hummingbird, rhino, monkey or other animals on the packaging, than to hunt for obscure part numbers.
Drivers are provided for Windows and OS X and there may be Linux support too, though the link on the Epson site appeared to be down when we tried it. Epson also includes a copy of ABBYY Finereader 6 Sprint OCR software and several of its own utilities, making a good bundle for a machine at this price.
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