Product Type: Epson All in one Printer
Newest Review: ... and it makes your life extremely difficult by forcing you to buy ink on sunday evenings (when every ink shop is closed) right before your d... more
How Slow Can You Go?
Member Name: sandemp
Advantages: Cheaper than standalone scanner, photocopy option, looks pretty good, decent results
Disadvantages: Slow, not truely photo quality printout
The SX130 came securely packed in a fairly large cardboard box, held in place by polystyrene inserts. Within the packaging there was also a power lead, starter set of inks, set-up guide and installation disc. As is the norm for printers nowadays a USB lead is not supplied, so you will need to ensure you have an A to B USB printer lead available (I purchased one for 97p including delivery from Amazon). Once removed from the packaging there is a ridiculous amount of pieces of tape to remove from the printer before it can be installed. Personally, while I appreciate that these pieces of tape prevent the working parts from moving and being damaged, I did become very frustrated especially as many of these pieces of tape were difficult to remove and a few of them left a sticky residue.
Once all the tape and protective film was removed, I was actually pretty impressed with the look and styling of the printer. Measuring in at approximately 30cm by 44cm and standing 15cm high, it does seem to deserve the compact status that Espon have given it. In fact it is smaller than my P50 which does not have the scanner and photocopier functions. Something that I have noticed is that over the years printers have gone from being purely functional to having a more stylish look and the SX130 is no different in that respect. Gone is the beige exterior of days gone by and in it's place is a glossy black with a mirror finish. While this glossy black look does look very smart and fits in well with my other electronic equipment it is also a dust and fingerprint magnet that requires daily dusting. As the paper feed guide and tray fold neatly away when not in use, it could be said that the printer looks a little boxy, but personally I feel it looks minimalistic and very tidy as well as helping protect these slightly more fragile components from accidental damage. This minimalistic look is continued in the amount of buttons there are on the printer, there are only four, a power button, black/white copy, colour copy and stop/maintenance along with two LEDs (power and maintenance).
The Quick-Start guide is easy to follow and takes you through the complete set-up process, which was fairly easy. The power lead is a reasonable length, meaning that the printer does not need to be placed right next to a socket. There were actually two power leads included in the box, one with a three pin plug for those of us in the UK and a two pin for those on the continent. While this isn't actually all that useful for me, I was still impressed that should I ever move to the continent I would still be able to use the printer without having to purchase a new power lead.
The majority of the set-up process is completed before connecting the printer to a computer, which would be handy should you have only purchased the printer for it's photocopying abilities. Basically there are a set of four ink cartridges to install and while I struggled to fit the first of these in place, it's a very intuitive process, with each cartridge and it's corresponding slot being clearly labelled. Once the ink cartridges were installed I only had to wait a couple of minutes for the ink to charge and the printer was ready to be connected to a computer for installation. Although the printer is compatible with Windows operating systems from XP onwards and Mac 10.4/10.5/10.6+, I have only installed it on a laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium and a netbook running Windows 7 Starter. I must admit I found the installation process on both machines a long and laborious affair, taking just shy of half an hour. Along with the actual drivers several programs were installed including Epson Easy Print, Epson Scan, and a print monitor. There is also a pop-up requesting you allow Epson to monitor your printer, but I declined this option. Once everything was installed, all that was needed was to connect the printer via the USB, wait for it to be recognised and then restart the computer and then the printer was ready to go.
Although I must admit that I hadn't really thought about how useful the photocopying function of the printer is, I've actually already made use of it. The lid to the scanner section is easy to open and feels secure with no creaking of hinges and the scanner is large enough to easily accommodate an A4 sheet of paper. Photocopies can be made in either black and white or colour and you can choose from printing just one copy or twenty. I do like how easy it is to operate and the fact that you do not need the printer connected to a computer to make photocopies. But I don't like the fact that there is only the choice between one or twenty copies, surely ten would have been a better amount than twenty.
Photocopying itself is a fairly quick procedure, the scan portion seems to be quite speedy with minimal warm up time. It's almost as if it's doing a preview scan, rather than a full scan. Black and white photocopies come out almost perfect, with a small amount of fading, but colour photocopies do suffer with a loss of colour, especially if the background is a pastel shade. For example I photocopied a CV that had a pale yellow background and that background was lost in the resultant copy. Printing of the copy is also far quicker than the original was printed and it reminded me of a draft mode. Even with this little gripe I must admit that the photocopy function is something I've used far more than I expected and is something I now wonder how I managed without.
As I stated at the beginning, I bought this printer solely for it's scanning function as a standalone scanner would have cost far more. Scanning is fairly simple using the supplied program, if you're not technologically minded then there is a full-auto mode that chooses what it thinks are the best settings and does a reasonable job. But for those that want more control there are a multitude of different settings to play with, including colour correction and DPI (how much detail). Having only scanned professional photographs, I have set up my own scanning profile where it scans at the highest setting of DPI with no other adjustments. Although the results are excellent, I must admit that I find the scanning process extremely slow, with it taking anything up to 4 minutes to scan a 5" by 7" photo. Resultant images are saved in the picture folder of your computer by default using the prefix IMG for each photo. Although this output folder can be changed, I really haven't bothered.
Let's start with the basics, the paper feed can hold up to 100 sheets of paper and is easily adjusted to any size of paper or envelope up to A4. Although the printer is technically capable of double sided printing, this is actually performed by printing alternate pages and then putting the paper in the other way round to print the other sides, which as far as I'm concerned is a basic function that certainly isn't anything to write home about. While the paper feed feels very secure and opens up far enough to support the paper, the paper out tray feels far more flimsy and only gives very minimal support to printed pages. So far I've had no problems with paper feeding into the printer, whether it be bog-standard printer paper or glossy photo paper.
Epson's own figures for the printing of text are up to 28 pages per minute in black and white and up to 15 in colour. Well I've no idea where they got these figures from, maybe there was only a word per page, but I've found a full page of text takes just under thirty seconds whether it be in colour or black and white. The print quality on cheap value printer paper is perfectly acceptable, with it being clear with no ink run and even fine detail is viewable. For some reason I have found that printing from a computer is actually slightly slower than when using the printer as a standalone photocopier (which perhaps confirms my suspicion that the standalone function uses a form of draft print). Although I have the printer placed on a flat, stable surface (the floor to be exact) it doesn't seem to shake or vibrate too much while printing. It's not too noisy either, not whisper quiet but not so loud as to drown out any conversation or background noise.
Printing photographs should, in theory, be made easy using the Espon Easy Photo Print software and indeed it is easy if you only want to print photos on 10cm by 15cm photo paper. The Easy Print software allows you to choose which photos you want to print and make some enhancements before printing. But for some reason it will not allow me to print these photos on A4 paper (although it will on the Epson P50). I got round this by using other software on my computer, but by doing this I did lose the borderless printing function which was a disappointment. If I thought scanning and printing text was slow, nothing had prepared me for how slow this printer is at printing photos. An A4 page incorporating two photos takes a little over six minutes to print, which is a ridiculously long time. The resultant photos are reasonable, with good colour reproduction, but there is a noticeable difference in quality between photos printed on this printer and photos printed on the P50, with the P50 being far superior. That's not to say they aren't displayable, because they most certainly are and once behind glass they look good, it's just they're not quite as vibrant and sharp.
The use of four separate ink tanks should, in theory, make this printer more economical than those that simply utilise black and colour, as you only need to replace the colour that has run out rather than the complete colour cartridge (even though only one of the three colours has run out). In practise I really don't find this printer that economical with ink. Although I fully understand that the initial set of starter inks had less ink in them than standard cartridges and some of that ink was used in the initial charging process, I only managed to print out five A4 photos before the ink monitor was complaining that the ink was running out. Replacing the cartridges is a simple affair, you can either use originals, which would cost almost as much as the printer did, or do what I did and go down the compatible route. I bought three full sets of ink for £12 (inc. delivery) and have so far had no problems with them being recognised and indeed have had just as good results as I had from the original cartridges. I still find this printer is very ink hungry, managing up to ten A4 photos before needing one or more cartridges replaced.
As with most Epson printers I've owned this has required very little maintenance, bar ink cartridges being replaced. There is a warning light that flashes as the ink begins to run low, which does get a little annoying. So far I've had no problem with the heads clogging, but one thing I've discovered is that it's best to keep any Espon printer on as this does seem to reduce clogging. Should the heads clog, the clean head function is easy to access, although this does seem to fairly eat ink. I've not had any paper jams to date and have given the printer a fairly intensive test drive.
This really isn't a bad printer, far from it, I love the standalone photocopy function and have made extensive use of the scanning function. But it's not the best of printers either, it is incredibly slow, both at scanning and printing and the print quality, while acceptable, is easily beaten by my Epson P50. I don't regret paying the £24.99 for one minute, after all I would have had to pay far more than that for a standalone scanner, and with this I also have the choice to use it to print. So as to my recommendation, well I would recommend it for anyone looking for a way to digitise their photos for sharing with family and friends, or those for whom the photocopier facility would come in useful (which is all us really). I just wouldn't recommend it as the only printer in the household, as it's rather slow at printing the resulting images, not the best quality and uses rather a lot of ink. So I'm going to give the Epson SX130 four stars out of five, with it losing the one star due to how slow it is at printing.
Summary: Cheaper and more versatile than a scanner