Epson packs a punch: RX630 multifunction printer

Epson has aimed its RX630 top-of-the range multi-function inkjet printer squarely at the photo-enthusiast, delivering almost as much punch as it boasts. But perhaps it comes back to the old argument that a multi-function punch will never deliver as much power as a focused one.

Epson has a good reputation for its photo printers, and while photos from the RX630 are decent, they are not quite as good as those produced by some other single-purpose photo printers.

Although the RX630 prints photos with rich colour and crisp outlines, slight banding can occur in scenery shots printed at the default settings. This banding is substantially reduced when optimal settings are selected, and it totally disappears when the bi-directional print option is selected. This however, increases printing time. Black-and-white photos lack depth and tonal variation, looking almost like photocopies.

The convenience, however, of an all-in-one lab may compensate for a little banding in the sky and luck of lustre in black-and-white photos.

The RX630 enables you to scan (at 4800dpi resolution), print, and copy from film, memory cards, cameras or other USB devices all completely independent of a PC. There is also an optional Bluetooth pack for remote printing from compatible cameras and mobile phones.

Everything can be done through a 6cm LCD screen and an easy-to-use control panel. The LCD screen resolution is too low to get a great preview of what the photo will look like, but it gives a fairly good idea.

Boasting speeds up to 17ppm for black A4 text, the printer can take anything up to two minutes to produce full colour photos at 5760x1440 dpi on glossy paper.

The RX630 has a few attractive features, including the ability to scan images directly to your PC or e-mail in a variety of formats, including PDF and JPEG.

Another feature for creative photo enthusiasts is Poster Copy, which lets you print a photo to poster size by breaking the image up into four, nine or 16 parts and printing each part individually.

The accompanying software is not really worth the 93.1MB it will take up on your hard drive, but perhaps this is because the RX630 is designed to be independent of the PC.

With each of the six ink cartridges costing close to $16 each, you would not buy this printer as a cheap way to mass-produce your happy snaps. It is reasonably ink-efficient though, and could work out to be a cheaper option if you plan to print a lot of A4 photos. Definitely look at considering this unit if you need the photocopier and scanner as well.

Price: $499 Vendor: Epson URL:

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