Epson Stylus DX4800 Review
- Review Price: £81.00
The all-in-one device market continues to hot up and as specs rise, prices fall. This latest release from Epson brings the street price down to well under £100, while offering a number of innovations in a machine at this price point. Almost inevitably though, there are a some shortcomings too.
The Stylus DX4800 is a sleek, curvaceous design, traditionally laid out with a 1,200ppi flatbed scanner on top and a paper path running from a vertical tray at the rear to a horizontal one at the front. A comprehensive control panel runs down the left-hand side of the top panel, with a rather tacky stick-on label giving you more information on what the lights and buttons mean.
Perhaps not surprising on a device at this price point, there’s no LCD monitor screen, but since the device includes a memory card reader – behind a spring-loaded, acrylic cover on the left – this can make life a bit awkward. You have two choices: you can print an index sheet and mark off the prints you want to reproduce from a card, or upload the images to your PC and select them from there. If your camera supports PictBridge, it’s a much better bet to select from the camera.
The control panel includes buttons to control text or photo prints, paper size and index sheet printing and a single digit LCD display enables you to dial up a number of copies. At the rear is a socket for the mains cable – no ugly, black-block power supply, here – and another for a USB 2.0 cable.
The Stylus DX4800 uses Durabrite inks, which have a claimed fade resistance under glass of up to 80 years and are smear and water resistant as soon as a page leaves the machine. The scanner uses a CCD sensor, which has a small depth of field, which may cause problems if you can’t lay the source page completely flat, as when scanning from a bound book.
The four separate ink cartridges click into place in the head carrier once you’ve hinged the scanner section upwards. Access is surprisingly good for a multifunction machine. A nice touch when changing ink cartridges is that the head carrier moves to a locatoin on the carriage where a pointer shows which cartridge needs replacing. A simple, low-cost improvement, but one which simplifies maintenance.
There’s a good suite of easy-to-use software supplied with the Stylus DX4800. As well as a comprehensive printer driver, there are copies of the Epson Creativity Suite and Epson Scan, which includes basic OCR.
This isn’t a particularly quick printer and to get the times we finally saw out of the black text test, we had to manually tell the driver we were printing in black only. Even then, it took nearly one and three quarter minutes to complete, or 2.9ppm. The combined text and graphics page wasn’t much quicker, completing in 45 seconds, a lazy 1.3ppm. Epson’s draft page must be very simple, if it can print 20 of them in a minute.
As mentioned earlier, printing photos from a memory card in standalone mode is a bit convoluted, as you have to print an index sheet first and mark up the images you want. The print time of 1:41 recorded here, includes scanning the sheet and downloading the selected image. It’s not much quicker direct from a PictBridge camera, though.
Text print quality is not all it could be, either. While there’s little bleed of the Durabrite inks into the paper, jagged edges to diagonals and curves are quite apparent and areas of solid colour suffer from micro-banding, where you can see each line of dots. Photo images, at the device’s maximum interpolated resolution of 5,760 x 1,440dpi, are much better, and our test piece came through well, with good levels of detail in the shadows and clean coloured gradations.
Each of the ink cartridges can be replaced separately on this machine and a complete set will cost you around £25, half of some rival models’. Strangely, the capacity of the black cartridge appears low compared with those of the colour cartridges, so you’ll be replacing it more often, too. We only managed 207 pages at five per cent cover, before the driver claimed the cartridge was empty and refused to continue printing. Epson quotes 380 pages from this cartridge.
The colour test piece did much better, and was still going strong at 400, 20 per cent pages, though it finally ground to a halt at 418, still short of Epson’s 480-page claim. This gives page costs of 3.39p for black text and 36.7p for colour images, on photo paper.
This is an inexpensive device for anybody with simple requirements for a printer, scanner and copier. The lack of an LCD monitor and its print speed count against it, but print quality and running costs are reasonable for a machine at this price.
Score in detail
Print Speed 4
Print Quality 7