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Epson EPL-6200

Epson's EPL-6200 is a medium-sized printer, vaguely reminiscent of a Roneo duplicator in styling. It's taller than it is deep but when you add the 250-sheet paper cartridge at the front, it has quite a large footprint on the desktop. Paper feeds to the output tray set into the printer's top, but with a fold up support. There's also a multi-purpose feeder built into the top cover of the paper cartridge.

A fold-down cover at the front reveals the drum and toner cartridge assembly, which is easy to extract and replace. You can fit separate toner cartridges to the drum, which itself has a life of 20,000 sheets.

There are six indicators on the top surface of the unit, covering paper out, toner low, insufficient memory, data transfer, printer error and ready status. Three buttons take the printer on and off line, print a status sheet and cancel one or all outstanding jobs. This is a comprehensive set of controls for a printer in this price bracket.

At the rear are sockets for parallel and USB connections, as well as the standard kettle lead power socket.

Installation is as simple as running the supplied CD to install the drivers and then connecting the printer so that the operating system can see it. The EPL-6200 supports versions of Windows back to 95 and MacOS 8.6 to 10.

Like most of the laser printers in this group, the only software supplied is a driver, but Epson's supports watermarks and overlays for fancy documents and for those where you want to restrict circulation to a selected group. You can select two or four pages per sheet from the driver, as well as control resolution, which by default is 600dpi. The maximum resolution of this machine is 1,200dpi up and across the paper.

The Epson is rated at 20 pages per minute, but our 20 page test document took roughly 25% longer than this. The pages aren’t really plain text though, so it’s likely to take longer to compose than Epson's test piece.

The five-page text and graphics document took 26 seconds to print, slightly longer than several others on test, but nothing to get concerned about. Finally, the five by three inch photo print at the printer's maximum resolution took 21 seconds, over twice as long as the 600dpi print from the Canon machine, for example.

The output quality of this greyscale image was no better than some of the 600dpi images from other machines. In fact it contains some noticeable micro-banding. More typical of the kind of output you would expect from a mono laser, the text and text and graphics documents produced clean, dense blacks and fair greys, though print quality was judged poor, overall.

Noise levels from the EPL-6200 were high, with a maximum measured level of 64dBA. This is something Epson should look into, as it would make the machine difficult to use in quiet environments. As some compensation, the printer is very quiet when in standby.

The EPL-6200 uses two-part consumables: a 20,000 sheet drum and a separate toner cartridge. The toner cartridge is available in two capacities, 3,000 and 6,000 pages. Calculating a per page cost with the lower yield cartridge produces a figure of 3.1p, but this reduces to 2.4p if you pay for its higher yield equivalent. This is still more expensive than several others, however.

Verdict

It's hard to see any good reason for paying extra for the Epson. While it's not a terrible printer, it simply can’t compete with the competition when it comes to both performance and running costs.

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