Epson Stylus SX515W review

A printer that can produce quality to keep, whatever the weather

Epson Stylus SX515W
Fear no rainfall with the SX515W's DURABrite inks

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Smudge-free output even on standard plain paper

  • +

    Quick and easy Wi-Fi connectivity

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    Very fast for mono A4 text output

  • +

    Intuitive control panel with a 6.3cm colour LCD screen

  • +

    Good memory card support


  • -

    Slow colour/photo printing

  • -

    Photo quality is dull with poor colour rendition and a lack of contrast

  • -

    Print heads are prone to clogging if you only use the printer infrequently

  • -

    2400 x 2400dpi scanner resolution lags behind competitors

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    Paper transport system is quite noisy

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What's the single most infuriating thing about inkjet printers, apart from when one of the cartridges runs out and the damned thing refuses to print just when you need it most?

Well, picture this. You're trying your level best to look good on paper, creating an immaculately crafted and mostly truthful CV that you're really proud of.

However, at some point before it lands on the desk of whoever's handing out your dream job, it somehow comes into contact with a single drop of water and your award-winning CV is instantly transformed into a smudgy mess.

The Epson Stylus SX515W aims to ensure that never happens.

An inkjet is an inkjet is an inkjet, right? Actually, while the vast majority of models from Brother, Canon, HP and Lexmark, as well as from Epson itself, use pigment-based or dye-based water-soluble inks, the SX515W is a rare breed that relies on resin-based inks, under Epson's DURABrite umbrella.

In fact, an umbrella is the last thing these inks need, as their main claim to fame is that they can produce water-resistant, smudge-proof, anti-fade prints on bog-standard plain paper.

Robustness of plain-paper prints isn't the SX515W's only selling point, as it's also well-connected for a printer with such a knockdown price tag.

As well as de rigueur USB 2.0 and PictBridge ports, it also features full Wi-Fi connectivity with a blissfully quick and easy setup routine that's fully automatic, apart from requiring you to enter your network password.

On top (literally) of a fast 5760 x 1440dpi printer, you get a capable 2400 x 2400dpi CIS (Contact Image Sensor) scanner, which has been teamed up with a logically-designed control panel and 6.3cm colour LCD screen.

The net result is simple standalone mono or colour photocopying, as well as direct photo printing from the built-in CF, MMC, MS, SD, SDHC and xD memory card readers.

The inclusion of CompactFlash compatibility is nice to have, and something that's lacking on many current all-in-one printers like the Lexmark Interact S605.

It's not all good news thought, because while the four-ink system is perfectly adequate for document printing, photo output from the SX515W is a lacklustre, with limited colour range, poor contrast and a dull appearance even when printing on glossy photo paper.

In a straight fight with our stopwatch, the Epson put in a great turn of speed for mono documents, outputting A4 text pages in as little as four seconds.

It proved a little more tardy for mixed text and colour graphics, taking 28 seconds per page. Photo output was painfully slow, taking a minute and six seconds for a 6 x 4-inch print in normal quality mode, and a nap-inducing six minutes and forty seconds for a top-quality borderless A4 photo print.

That's nearly three and a half times slower than the Canon iP4700 and five times slower than the Lexmark Interact S605.

The only other real snag we ran into was that if we didn't use the Epson for a couple of weeks, its resin-based inks had a nasty habit of setting like glue in the print head nozzles, requiring multiple cleaning cycles to unclog them.