Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Epson Stylus TX200
Surprising results from a budget multifunction.
- Fairly fast, decent quality photos, memory-card reader
- Poor direct printing implementation, poor build quality
At a bargain basement price the TX200 provides surprising quality and performance, making this multifunction hard to pass up. There are inherent flaws in such a cheap printer, but for families and occasional printing needs the TX200 is a decent purchase.
Price$ 99.00 (AUD)
Nearing the cheaper end of Epson’s budget line of multifunctions, the Stylus TX200 is an extremely affordable printer which proved to be superior in performance and quality to the more expensive Stylus Office TX300F. Though there are still some negative aspects to this multifunction, it is certainly a decent option for consumers on a budget.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the Stylus CX5500, the TX200 improves on its predecessor with the addition of a memory-card reader for direct printing. Apart from this it carries the standard print, copy and scan functionality, and has a basic control panel. With no automatic document feeder or fax capability, the TX200 is clearly designed for home use.
Unsurprisingly, the TX200 still carries the hallmarks of Epson manufacturing that we dislike. Poor build quality means that most hinges and trays are easily breakable if anything more than gentle force is applied, while the rear paper feeder’s paper control mechanism caused numerous paper jams during testing. We’re not surprised to see this on the TX200, but we still dislike the lack of effort by Epson.
With support for SD, xD, CompactFlash and MemoryStick, and a PictBridge for compatible digital cameras, media support is fairly comprehensive. Unfortunately, its implementation is hardly satisfactory: like Epson’s Stylus CX7300, the TX200 lacks a colour LCD screen to display the photos available for print. Instead, direct printing requires users to print off an index sheet of the photos, mark their desired prints and then scan the sheet back into the printer. Although this is all done without help from a PC, the entire process is troublesome and ink-wasting. (Of course, the memory card reader can be used to view photos on a PC.)
Fortunately, there are plenty of positives. We were extremely surprised at the TX200’s performance during our printing tests, with speeds that easily surpassed the more expensive TX300F. A standard text document will print at an average 12 pages per minute using its draft quality setting, with the first page out in 9.3 seconds. At normal quality — with vastly superior output — this slowed to 4ppm. Documents with graphical elements were perplexingly faster, with draft quality documents printing at 19ppm, and normal quality documents slowing to 5ppm. Photo printing is also much faster, with a standard 4x6in photo taking a fairly quick 1min, and A4 photos printing in 3min 17sec. Though these speeds don’t rival laser printers or high-end inkjets, they remain surprisingly quick for the TX200’s price range and much faster than the Stylus Office TX300F.
Quality is adequate for the price, with surprisingly good quality photo prints. Text documents show no real aberrations, though the characters themselves are slightly bolder than they should be. Colours in graphical documents are somewhat dull when compared to the same results from the Stylus Office TX300F, but don’t impinge on the readability of the text itself. Photo printing was surprisingly accurate, with banding on A4 photos barely visible. Blacks are only slightly inaccurate, while most other colours are acceptably vibrant, which is particularly useful for outdoor photos.
Scanning quality is decent, with no significant loss of detail. Images are slightly under-saturated when compared to the original, though this wasn’t too much of an issue.
The TX200 has a total running cost of 19c per page, so it’s suitable as a low-cost family printer. Though some flaws have carried over from previous Epson models, the TX200’s performance and quality are significantly improved.
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