Epson, like several of the leading printer makers, is trying to move the inkjet all-in-one into the small business sphere and its new Stylus SX600FW appears fast and smartly styled. Office use is not just about looks and speed, though, as the total cost of ownership and ease of maintenance also play important roles.
This is a very sleek looking all-in-one and it looks as if Epson has had more than a passing glance at some of Canon’s devices. While the design is different, the gloss black panels and subtle curves of the printer's top surface show some definite parallels.
A particularly elegant feature is the folding Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) tray, which not only becomes part of the machine’s top cover, but also lifts the ADF output tray to continue the curve, leaving a completely smooth top surface when the ADF is closed.
The front panel has been considerably redesigned, too, with a 63mm colour LCD panel and a series of control buttons, all sitting smoothly flush with the piano-black panel front. There's a square of nine, large navigation controls, incorporating up/down buttons for number of copies, and there are easy ways to enlarge and reduce documents, too.
The standard number pad is supplemented by quick-dial fax numbers and last number dial and there’s a four-way mode button to switch between scan, copy, fax and photo print modes. The control set is completed by large start and stop buttons.
Memory card slots for the common types, but excluding specialist slots for miniSD or microSD - you’ll need an adapter - are grouped in the bottom left, together with a PictBridge socket for digital cameras, which can also take a standard flash drive. You can print from a flash drive and scan images to one, making it a versatile connection.
At the back, as well is a USB socket are others for cabled network, phone line and phone handset. This is a versatile machine when it comes to connections, as it also come with Wi-Fi as standard. Connection is straightforward, whichever method you choose.
In addition to the standard driver, Epson includes its useful Web-to-print utility, which squeezes prints of websites to fit paper width, and the Event Manager, which enables you to assign specific applications to the Start, Copy, E-mail and PDF buttons. Finally, there's a copy of Abbyy Finereader to handle Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
There's a lot you can do with this machine, without connecting to a PC. As well is the obvious functions of copying documents and printing from memory cards, Epson has been brainstorming and come up with a function to print stationery. It can print lined and squared paper and can also use an image from a memory card as a watermark on printed note paper. While this function produces pretty expensive writing paper, it's an interesting extension to the printing functions of the machine for special purposes.