Epson quotes both draft and normal print speeds for the Stylus SX600FW, with figures of 27ppm for black and 19ppm for colour in normal mode. Our five-page text print competed in 24 seconds and the 20-page document took 1:28, giving a best case print speed of 13.6ppm. When we mixed in the colour, with our five-page text and graphics print, we saw a speed of 5.45ppm. We wonder how the company can get the figures it publishes, though in comparative terms it’s still quite a speedy inkjet.
Printing a photo in normal mode took around 1:20, which is quick for a 15 x 10cm print from an all-in-one. With its very high resolution print, photo reproduction has always been a strong point of Epson's print engine. That's true here, where photo prints are pin sharp, with a lot of detail, and colours looking smooth and natural. Although it only uses four inks, you are unlikely to be disappointed by its photo output.
You could be disappointed by its text output, though, with noticeable jagged edges and spikes on characters printed on plain paper. Areas of colour from business graphics are passable, but not as dense as from some of its rivals, such as Canon's latest range of all-in-ones. A single-page copy suffered from the white paper nap showing through the ink.
There's no way you could describe this machine as quiet. The range of clunks and whirs it makes while printing or copying peaks at over 65dBA, which is noisy to any ears. It's one area where Epson has traditionally been poor and the redesign hasn't improved things.
Epson's website says you should get 230 ISO pages from a standard T0711 black cartridge, but we had printed just 30 before we got a low-ink warning. While we know the first set of cartridges you fit to an Epson machine uses a lot of ink to charge its piezoelectric head, we've never come across such a low page-count before.
Perhaps this is one reason why Epson has introduced a new set of cartridges which it recommends for this machine, which have much higher claimed yields. These cartridges should give 995 pages for black and 815 pages for each colour, in keeping with the company’s move to sell the Stylus SX600FW to the small business market.
Using these cartridges and the best prices we could find, and assuming they do return their claimed yields, gives a cost per black page of 2.31p and a cost for colour of 5.59p. These figures are quite similar to the last two Canon inkjets we've tested, though marginally lower on the black print. It should be an economical machine to run.
At first sight, the Stylus SX600FW appears to be offering a lot for its asking price. It certainly has a lot of features and is easy to use. If you buy into the higher capacity ink cartridges, it's also economical to run, but text and colour graphics print quality on plain paper leaves something to be desired. Ask for a print sample before making a final decision.