Epson has rightly earned itself a good reputation for its print quality. This machine produces excellent black text, with clean cut edges and dense black fills. Greyscale fills, as in our text and business graphics sample page, were not quite so good and suffered from some over-dark and oddly spotted dither patterns.
In colour, there are none of these graphics problems and block graphics print smoothly and in clean colours. There are different settings for text, graphics and photos and we were surprised how well the AcuLaser C2600N reproduced our photographic test sample. Colours are smoothly defined and, although slightly larger than life, for many purposes they’ll be very acceptable for general business jobs.
This is a very fast printer for its class. 23 seconds to print our five-page text document may only give a speed of 13ppm, against Epson’s claim of 30ppm, but when you look at the colour prints and see that each of them completed in just 17 seconds, you see how well it compares with its main competitors.
In passing, it’s about time all printer suppliers quoted print speeds for a typical business page, printed with normal printer settings, rather than an undefined page printed in draft mode. Roll on the release of the new ISO standard which will define a typical business page. All the major printer manufacturers have signed up to it and Epson is certainly no worse with its quoted print speeds than any other supplier.
If you start with an AcuLaser 2600N in mono mode, or print black-only pages on the C2600N, Epson claims you can get 5,000, five per cent black pages from its high capacity cartridge, the only type available. This gives a black page cost of a very healthy 1.62p. If you fit four black cartridges, the printing costs don’t change, you just get more pages before you need to replace them.
When it comes to colour, the page costs remain good, though now you have a chpice of 2,000 page, standard capacity cartridges or 5,000 page, high capacity ones. Using high capacity yields, for the best economy, you should get a 20 per cent page coming out at a fraction over 8p. This is at the lower-cost end of the colour prints we’ve produced recently, though most printers can print one at under 9p per page.
You wonder why nobody thought of a convertible laser printer before. Being able to change from a single black cartridge to four black cartridges, or to full, four-colour printing, simply by adding or replacing toner makes the AcuLaser C2600N very flexible.
That’s not all in its favour, though, as it produces high-quality prints quickly, and at very competitive costs. Given the substantial discounts off the RRP available from Internet sources, it also represents very good value for money.