- Review Price: £109.00
Although the colour laser is rapidly taking over the majority of laser printer sales, there’s still an appreciable market for mono-only devices at the right price. Epson’s EPL-6200 may have an RRP of nearly £300, but if you shop around, you can find it for under £110. At this price, it’s an interesting option.
When you first lift the EPL-6200 from its box it looks neat and compact, but by the time you’ve slotted in the front loading paper tray and folded up the output tray from the printer’s top surface, it loses some of its style. You can load up to 250 sheets of paper at a time and there’s an optional 500 sheet tray which fits underneath, if you need more.
There are three indicator lights in a line on the right shoulder of the printer and as well as the usual toner and paper jam indicators the third light indicates memory errors. We would expect this indicator to be needed if you use the printer with its built-in level 3 PostScript interpreter on more complex documents and at higher resolutions, because the machine only has 8MB of internal memory as standard. The EPL-6200 can print at a full 1,200dpi, though by default it outputs at 600dpi.
As well as the on/offline button, there are two more, used to cancel the current job or all jobs in the print queue and to print a status page. This give slightly more direct control of your printing than normal on a laser of this type.
At the back are sockets for USB 2.0 and parallel connections and you can add a network card to make the printer fully networkable. It’s also possible to fit a duplexing unit for printing on both sides of the paper.
Hardware and software setup for this laser are very straightforward, particularly as the drum and toner unit is supplied pre-installed. Toner cartridges lock into the back of the drum unit and slide together through a hatch in the front of the printer, with uncharacteristic ease. Both consumables need replacing at different intervals, unlike the all-in-one approach of a company like hp. The two-piece design should provide better economy, though.
The printer driver and status monitor are the only supplied applets with the EPL-6200, but they give you all the control you need over the machine. It can handle watermarks and overlays as standard and print two and four pages per sheet.
Like all mono lasers, this printer is designed primarily for text and simple graphics. For this kind of print, it does extremely well, producing sharp, well-defined characters with virtually no noticeable toner spatter. Right down to very small point sizes, text is readable and sharp.
When you introduce business graphics into your prints, things are still pretty passable. Although there’s a noticeable texture to colours rendered as greyscales through the printer’s raster image processor (RIP), there’s little apparent banding and the result is clear and well structured.
Graphic output suffers a little from the same dotty texture as business graphics and this can only be partly removed by switching to a 1,200dpi ‘class’ print, which appears to simply use a different dot pattern. Hiking up the output to a true 1,200dpi removes the dottiness, but puts a noticeable micro-banding in its place. A series of horizontal lines close together down the print detract from its otherwise reasonable quality. By default, the contrast is a little high, too.
The EPL-6200 is quite a noisy beast when printing. Epson claims a sound output of 54dBA but we measured the printer at peaks of over 60dBA. Subjectively, the sounds aren’t that annoying, though, and reflect the mechanics of paper feed and print.
There are two components to the consumables in this printer: a photoconductor drum and a toner cartridge. The toner cartridge comes in two varieties; a standard capacity rated at 3,000 five per cent pages and a high-capacity producing twice that. The photoconductor drum is rated at 20,000 pages. Doing the maths with the high-capacity toner cartridge produces a cost per page of 1.92p, which is very reasonable for this class of device.
A service life of 20,000 pages on the photoconductor drum is quite reasonable on this class of printer, as you wouldn’t expect to get through this number of prints in under two years. Even so, Epson gives the printer a duty cycle of a hefty 30,000 pages per month.
A fast mono laser printer, complete with a level 3 PostScript interpreter and reasonable upgrade potential is a good buy at the kind of street price the EPL-6200 now attracts. The print quality is above-average and although the printer is a little ungainly and could do with more than its standard 8MB of memory, it should be considered by anybody wanting a home or small business mono workhorse
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 8