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Epson Stylus Photo PX800FW review

Could this high-end multifunction machine offer a return to form for Epson?

Our Verdict

Can't fault it for features, and it's fast, but we have issues with its print quality

For

  • Fast printouts
  • Packed with features

Against

  • Washed-out colours
  • Lifeless text
  • Banding
  • Only shines on photo paper
  • Packed with features

Epson's Stylus Photo PX800FW is a feature-packed multiformat device that can print borderless photos from 10x15cm up to A4 size.

It also prints directly from memory cards, preview photos on an 8.9cm LCD viewer, photocopies and faxes in black and white or colour, prints onto a CD or DVD, scans text into docs and connects to your Mac through USB, Ethernet or WiFi. But does it perform any better than Epson's PX700W, which was poorly received last year?

Bit of a wash-out

Unfortunately, our base test, a colour print on standard-quality paper, proves just as problematic. The colours look washed out and lifeless, with the occasional banding line. For a printer that costs more than £200, this is simply unacceptable. It performs much better on Epson's own glossy photo paper, with vivid colours, little banding and near-perfect photo reproduction. But with an all-round, jack-of-all-trades workhorse like the PX800FW, you expect all-round quality.

Its failings are less noticeable when printing text, but comparing results with those offered by other multifunction printers, soon highlights its limitations. Very small point sizes look smudged and indistinct, and even larger print loses its crispness and finesse. Very large or bold text suffers the same problems as the colour printouts, with the washed-out feel taking its toll.

It performs better in timing tests, outputting a 20-page black-and-white text file in two minutes, 50 seconds. Colour and black-and-white copies took 25 and 16 seconds respectively, but also looked washed out.

However, the machine is feature-rich and easy to set up to get working. Printing on CDs using the software app is a cinch. Yet this counts for little when its print quality is lacking. Steer clear, unless you do all your colour prints on photo paper.