Name: Epson Stylus SX525WD (Epson)
Type: Inkjet printer/scanner/copier
Specifications: Click here for full specs
Price: £89.99 from Amazon
Boasting class-leading print speeds and a robust feature list that includes duplex printing and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Epson Stylus SX525WD sub-£100 all-in-one is certainly an attractive proposition. But have any concessions been made to hit this value price bracket, and can it really meet those super-fast print speeds?
Sturdily built, the SX525WD measures up at 455x359x164 mm. It’s fairly chunky therefore, but makes itself more desk-friendly by featuring a front-rather-than rear loading 150-page feed tray. A 6.3 cm screen sits on the front of an angle-adjustable control panel. As the screen is not touch sensitive, you get a sensible array of control buttons on the panel, allowing you to print without hooking up to a PC should you insert an SD, Memory Stick or xD storage device into the front-facing card slot.
Thanks to an in-built Wi-Fi connection and rear Ethernet port, connecting the SX525WD to a wireless network is a cinch. The printer quickly found our network and within a few minutes all devices in our house were hooked up. Connecting the printer via USB however was an unexpected chore, with the printer repeatedly failing to pair with our PC.
The Espon Stylus SX525WD has claimed print speeds of 36ppm in both black and colour modes. Though this spec is quoted from draft speeds, we still found a discrepancy in how fast it churned out our pages. Five pages of black text showed print speeds of closer to 8.9ppm in print mode and 9.9ppm in draft mode; respectable, but a far cry from the 36ppm that Epson are touting. The figures don’t seem to take into account the time the printer takes to process the pages before shoving them out, which obviously leads to a dramatically different speed when compared to real-world usage. Print a longer document and the SX525WD picks up the pace slightly however, once it’s warmed up a little.
Full colour pages were produced at a slower speed than the marketing suggests too, with just a 1.5ppm real-world speed in our tests. Printing photos was again clocked at a fair speed (between 1 minute and 2 minutes 10 seconds depending on the quality), but didn’t match up with the specs. Overall these are reasonable speeds though, and we can’t fathom why Epson decided to open themselves up to criticism when the actual speeds would have been more than worthy.
Print quality is above average too. Though black text over colour images could muddle colours slightly, overall full colour images were solid, and text not overly jagged. Photo prints (at a rather good resolution of up to 5,760 by 1,440dpi) seemed to result in a slightly raised contrast ratio, which had a pleasant effect on some of our snaps, but washed out some of the deeper hues in a handful of evening outdoor shots.
Moving onto the scanner, it’s of the CIS variety, A4 in size with a 2400 dpi resolution. It produced previews of pages in a little over 12 seconds, managing a 300ppp scan in 11 seconds. These aren’t ground-breaking specs by any means, but more than a match for this price bracket, and more than enough for most home usage scenarios. Scanned images looked a little smoother than the pin-sharp originals, though barley noticeably to all but a highly trained eye. Colours however were a tad less vibrant. Copies on the other hand were nice and fast; 8 seconds for a black and white, 26 seconds for colour.
Where the SX525WD really shines however is running costs. Two cartridge capacities are available, and using the larger one resulted in page costs of 6.5p for colour and 2.5 p for black and white sheets, including the price of the paper itself. It’s not quite a match for the value of Kodak printers, but manages to beat the majority of rivals in this regard.
As a closing point, we wouldn’t recommend using this printer too regularly around flatmates or work colleagues, as it can get pretty noisy. Though it’s hard to quantify the noise levels as I wasn’t prepared for them and thus unable to take a reading, suffice to say it was annoying enough for a nearby pal on the phone to leave the room.
Though noisier than we would have liked, and Epson have exaggerated a little on the print speeds, the SX525WD is a solid all-round performer. With low running costs, above average print quality and print speeds, Wi-Fi connectivity and duplex print modes, it’s a great value domestic printer that should meet all but the most demanding of needs.