Epson is champion at presenting speed figures which bear little relation to the real world and on the B-310N, which seems intent to run maintenance checks at every opportunity, it’s hard to time a run which doesn’t include some fidgeting around. Even when we did, black and colour speeds were nowhere near 32ppm for normal print or 37ppm for draft, as Epson claims.
Our five page black text document completed in 27s, a speed of 11.1ppm, and the draft mode print was only marginally faster, at 11.5ppm. The longer, 20-page test, which is arguably the kind of document at which this machine is aimed, enabled a higher throughput of 13.2ppm, very respectable, but less than half the claimed speed. A 15 x 10cm photo at the highest quality setting completed in a quick 52s.
The quality of prints is only fair. Although black text looks superficially fine, when we looked a little closer we could see repeating bands where ink was missing or print was offset. Still fine for internal documents though.
Colours are solid and bright, though again there were some examples of nozzles not firing. This could have been the particular review sample we tested, but Epson printers have more trouble than most keeping their print nozzles clear, due to the piezo-electric print heads they use.
The photo print on Epson paper was very natural and the high print resolution meant there was very little sign of any dither patterns.
Using the highest yield print cartridges gives very low running costs. Black print comes out at 1.4p per ISO page, and colour print is a mere 3.0p, both including 0.7p for paper. These are the lowest costs we’ve recorded in the last year and we had to check the colour cost calculation to make sure we hadn’t put a digit wrong.
This is an inkjet printer for somebody considering a laser printer. It needs less maintenance, prints at similar speeds and costs much less to run than colour lasers costing considerably more and should be considered seriously. This is especially true if you want to print photos as part of its task set. It does this much better than any laser could.