* Prices may differ from that shown
Years ago, before the age of digital cameras, home printers weren't such a necessity, however, nowadays, where everybody likes to print their own photos, a home printer has become almost as much of a necessity as a mouse or a keyboard and with so many currently flooding the market nowadays it's hard to know what to choose.
When buying a new desktop PC a couple of years ago, we went a little technology crazy and bought everything going (PC World are still in business thanks to us), from a webcam, speakers, headphones, LCD screen and of course, a printer. We were recommended this Epson by the staff on our visit and despite its hefty price tag (£250) we were won over by all its many capabilities and the reputable brand attached to it.
Nowadays this can be picked up for £129.99 from the Epson website.
*** Aesthetics ***
To put it bluntly, it's not only the price tag that was hefty, this printer is rather on the large side. Infact, it's almost the size as one of those office printers that you can fill with about 50,000 sheets of paper and prints at the rate of 1000 a minute. An overstatement? Slightly, but seriously, before buying this you need to be aware of its size and you'll need to find a suitable place to house it.
Size aside, this is actually quite a nice looking piece of technology, despite being at least 3 years old, it still looks very modern and everything is spaced out well to make it easy on the eye. There's a slot that pulls down to enable you to insert your memory card (no memory stick capabilities, strangely) and below you'll find a bigger tray which you pull down to reveal the printer itself (where the paper appears, basically).
*** Features ***
At such a high price, you'd expect this to be able to, not only print 19 to the dozen, but also do your washing, all the while, making you a cup of tea. Unfortunately it doesn't quite live up to that premise. However, the specification on this appliance is very high and the list of things this printer does is practically endless.
Ok, so we'll start with the basics first, you want a printer that prints, right? The Epson Photo RX560 achieves that (and of course more). Upon turning the printer on, it will take about 20 seconds to properly configure so it's ready to undertake any task you require, after it's finished making a noise and the built in screen shows up with a menu you'll know that it's ready and raring to go. Due to the sheer number of options that this printer gives you, you'd assume that there would be a lot of fiddling about involved and, although there are a few technical aspects to get used to if you're looking to use this to its full potential, if you're just looking for something to print things then you're in luck. The printer has, what can only be described as a default setting, upon switching the printer on it will always revert back to printer mode. A very useful option as this is what this is mainly used for. Therefore, all that needs doing when the printer has loaded, is to click 'print' on your computer/laptop and you're away. The printer will immediately begin to print (if there's paper available, of course) and you should have a finished copy within 20 seconds. This, of course depends on the level of detail on the page you're printing. The quality of the print out is good, the ink doesn't look smudged or faded, with no gaps in ink that the printer could have missed. In addition to the tray that pulls down to reveal the printer slot (this keeps the mechanism free from dust and other such nasties) there's also a tray that slides out, therefore if you're printing numerous pages and you haven't got time to collect them one by one, the tray slides out to a length that you want and holds all the paper in place. In my experience this can hold anything up to around 40 pages, before some of the bottom pieces start to be pushed over the edge.
Something that a lot of printers seem to incorporate these days is a photocopier. Having a separate photocopier, this isn't a feature that is used much in our house, however, it's useful to have when the ink runs out or during any other such event. Similar to the default setting of print, there is actually, cleverly, another default setting. You see, the print default setting is activated by clicking 'print' on your computer, whereas the default setting regarding the photocopier kicks into gear by pressing 'start' on the printer itself (clever eh?). The photocopier will copy anything from black and white to colour. Simply lift up the top of the printer (make sure to only lift up the first layer) and align your paper in the bottom right corner, close the lid and press 'start'. The photocopier does take slightly longer to produce results than when printing from a computer, however, the wait isn't a considerable one and it prints with no problems whatsoever. There are also some extra options to enable your print outs to be as successful as possible. Not only can you decide upon how many print outs you'd like (anything up to 99), but there are also options to decipher what it is you're actually copying. From graphics, photo to text there's an option to get the best out of your print outs. Of course, this is a nice little added extra and when you're copying photos you can tell the difference in quality, however, if it's text or anything else you're copying it really doesn't matter what setting you have it on. The default setting is graphics and it's rare that I alter this. Take care not to get finger prints on the photocopy screen as these will occasionally show up on the paper. I find that a dry cloth removes any dust or fingerprints from the screen.
One feature, that's a nice inclusion, although not entirely necessary (in our household anyway), is the CD printer. Basically, utilising an attachment that comes with the printer, you can design a picture on a CD, a great gift for a relative if you're looking to spice up some of your boring old holiday snaps, but not something I've used more than about twice. In my opinion, this causes more hassle than it's worth. Firstly you'll need to load up the software on your computer, in order to create the design (either custom or preset), this isn't the easiest of tasks in itself and the software seems to have a few glitches in it. Nevertheless, it does work, the attachment that comes with the printer needs to be in place, which again poses a bit of a problem, but when in place you can print your own designs on a CD. This process takes about 15 minutes to complete and the results look very impressive afterwards.
Last, but certainly not least is the memory card adapter. Your memory card (SD/MS/PRD/XD) can be placed into the slot situated at the front of the printer, and, without the need to even switch your computer on, you can print photos at your convenience. Once your memory card is inserted, the screen can really be utilised to its full potential. Your pictures will instantly load up and you're able to view them either in a thumb nail view, or full view. You can then select which photos you'd like to print and they will begin printing instantaneously. With this printer, everything is customisable, therefore why should photo printing be any different? You can select how many pictures you'd like on each page (anything up to 16), or of course you can make one photo take up an entire page (this isn't recommended as pictures can become pixelated). Of course, to get the best out of your pictures you need to invest in some decent quality photo paper, and in the end, everything comes out fantastically well. The quality of the pictures (on the photo paper, not normal paper) is excellent and just as good as getting your pictures developed professionally.
*** Inserting Ink/Paper ***
What should generally be a pretty easy task, such as inserting paper into a printer, actually becomes a bit of a skill in itself. You need to align the paper to the right side of the printer in exactly the right angle, get it wrong and your print outs will be wonky. This isn't a huge problem as it's easily rectified, but it can become quite an annoyance when it happens more than a couple of times. Paper will occasionally become jammed, too. This, understandably poses more of a problem than wonky print outs and can occasionally stop the printer from printing altogether. This all goes back to how you enter the paper, if it is rather wonky, there's a chance the printer won't take it and it'll become jammed in the mechanism. This will require you to manually open up the printer to remove the blockage. Fortunately this doesn't happen all that often, but extra care does need to be taken when it happens.
In terms of inserting the ink, it's all pretty simple. You use the menu to navigate around until you find the 'ink cartridge' option, upon clicking 'ok' you need to open up the second layer of the printer. When the ink box reaches the right hand side of the printer, you'll be able to open it up. Every slot will have a specific colour on it, to which you need to insert the matching colour. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes to insert the ink, click everything back into place and click 'ok'. Upon clicking 'ok' the ink will load and you'll be able to print.
The cost of the ink is always a problem, no matter what branded printer you buy. However, in my experience Epson ink offer some of the most expensive ink around. For a multi pack of all the colours from Epson themselves will ask for a catastrophic £54.98 (this printer requires the Hummingbird ink). That's not the worst of it though, some online retailers sell them for as much as £70. We've tried a couple of other ink brands, for about £5 on Amazon, all claiming to be genuine Epson ink and none of them worked, the printer simply wouldn't accept them. So, unfortunately it looks like it's necessary to shell out for the real deal everytime.
*** Usability ***
*** Summary ***
Overall this printer was a fantastic buy and, despite having a few flaws (size, cost and the occasional jam), the positives far outweigh the negatives here and I have no qualms about recommending this excellent appliance to you.