If the Stylus SX215 can really reach 32ppm printing black and 15ppm printing colour, even in draft mode, our gast would be truly flabbered, particularly as the machine could only manage 3.5ppm on our five-page black text print and 1.2ppm on the black text and colour graphics test.
As usual, the result of the 20-page test was faster, but in this case only by 0.5ppm, giving a top speed of 4ppm. This is slow and the 20-page document took over five minutes to complete.
A single page colour A4 copy took 1min 11secs and a 15 x 10cm photo took 3mins 19secs printing in best mode from a PC, but rather longer – 4mins 55secs – to print in standard mode from an SD card. If you want to print a bunch of photos, best to leave it overnight.
Actually, best to leave it overnight working in the garage, as we measured a maximum noise level of 77dBA at half a metre, when feeding paper. This is very loud and would be distracting if, for example, you were trying to take a phone call while printing a multi-page document on your desk.
Given this is a budget printer, the print quality is passable. It’s nowhere near as clean as even cheap Canon or HP machines, as there’s jaggedness to curves and diagonals and some bleeding of ink into the paper; slightly surprising given Epson’s use of pigmented inks.
Colours in business graphics are bright and generally smooth, with solid fills showing few signs of dither patterns or other artefacts. Photo prints are excellent, with clean outlines, smooth transitions from colour to colour and a fair amount of detail in hard-to-reproduce shadows.
The Stylus SX215 can take the relatively low capacity ‘cheetah’ cartridges or the really low capacity ‘monkey’ ones, so going for the cheetah option gives the best economy. Even that, though, isn’t wonderful, with a cost per black page of 3.9p and one for colour of 10.4p.
While the black page cost is 0.3p less than from, for example, the £40 Canon PIXMA MP270 the colour cost is 1.3p per page more, so you’ll probably want to use colour sparingly.
For its price, there’s plenty to like about the Epson Stylus SX215, such as its LCD display, simple operation and excellent photo prints. There are a few things to weigh against these, though, with its very noisy paper feed, universally slow print, expensive colour costs and uneven black text. We’d lean towards the PIXMA MP270, if we were buying at this price.
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