Prints in normal mode are much better. Text is dense and clean and, although the edges of characters look a little stepped, particularly on diagonals and curves, it’s perfectly presentable for day-to-day work. Colour also reproduces well, with smooth tints and no visible banding. Black text over coloured backgrounds is well registered and looks smart.
A test photo print, in best print mode, took 4mins 24secs to produce, but looks good. Graduated tints in the sky are smooth and free of much dither patterning, though some of these shadow detail is lost to black. We also printed the same image in normal photo mode; this took 2mins 6secs, less than half the time and, unless you look very closely, it’s hard to tell the difference.
The other place where Epson is decidedly wishful in its spec is the noise level. The company claims 45dBA, but even while printing we measured peaks of 62dBA and when feeding paper this rose to 78dBA; really very loud.
The danger of having a printer with a street price of under £30 is that you get very close to the price of a set of ink cartridges. The Stylus D92 uses four cartridges which you can buy in a four-pack for under £21, only around six pounds cheaper than a new printer. Since Epson will be making a lot more on the cartridges than on the printer itself, this differential may need looking at.
Working out the cost per page, using Epson’s ISO page yield figures – ones that are very difficult to exaggerate – gives 2.91p for black and 6.93p for colour. The black page cost is a little on the high side, but the colour cost is low compared with its main rivals. This is unusual, as printers with low asking prices typically cost more to run. Not so here; this is an inexpensive printer with inexpensive running costs.
The Epson Stylus D92 is quite a mixture. On the plus side, it’s very inexpensive to buy and surprisingly inexpensive to run. It produces very passable black and colour print on plain paper and good quality photos on Epson’s glossy photo paper.
Against this, it does everything extraordinarily slowly and is very noisy when feeding paper. As a printer for occasional use or in an environment, like a teenage study bedroom, where noise levels aren’t normally a problem, it represents extremely good value. In fact, with a pair of ear defenders and a filter coffee maker, you might not notice its downside at all.