As well as the 36ppm headline print speed claim, Epson also reckons the machine can produce a 15 x 10cm print in 20 seconds. We asked what settings were needed to get this speed, since all our photo print tests took over a minute. The company said a draft, borderless print on its Premium Glossy paper would do it, as long as we didn't include processing time. When we tried this, the printer took 26 seconds, 8 seconds of which were processing time. So it can be done, though the quality of the photo produced is pretty much as it says; draft.
Other prints are better. Photo images are sharp and natural, with some shadow detail and good natural colours, while business graphics are bright and show tight registration of black over coloured backgrounds. Black text is a little shaky, with some irregular character uprights, but is still good enough for general-purpose correspondence.
A colour photocopy showed quite a lightening of colours and solid fills were under-saturated. This is largely a function of the scanner, which also showed some changes in hue when sample pages were scanned into a PC.
It's a strange thing, but Epson recommends the T0711/2/3/4 set of cartridges - known as the Cheetah set, because of the picture on their packets - for this machine. However, the Stylus SX515W also accepts the T1001/2/3/4 combination, the Rhino set, which hold a lot more ink.
From typical online suppliers, like Toner Giant, which we used in working out page costs, the Rhino cartridges cost just under £20 for black and just under £12 for each colour. The Cheetah cartridges cost just over £9 and just over £8, respectively.
Yet the T1001 cartridge yields over four times as many black pages as the T0711, while the T1002/3/4 cartridges yield on average 2.5 times as many colour ones as the T0712/3/4. This means that using Rhino cartridges you get page costs of 2.73 and 7.14p, including 0.7p for paper, while using the recommended Cheetah ones gives equivalent costs of 4.51p and 11.72p. Perhaps it's no coincidence the lower yield cartridges are called Cheetah - we know which ones we'd use. The Rhino running costs are actually very good for an inkjet all-in-one.
The Epson Stylus SX515W is an impressive all-in-one printer at a very realistic price. It prints very quickly for an inkjet and produces good quality photos and reasonable plain paper prints. If you buy the Rhino cartridges, it's also very cheap to run, though Epson appears disingenuous in recommending lower-yield consumables, which will cost you more.