Even in this age, a device that can print, scan and copy, all for less than £70, sounds like a bit of a bargain. But it does beg the question: how cheap can you afford to go? And does the DX3800 overstep the mark?

Visually, it's obvious that the DX3800 isn't among the more sophisticated MFDs. Its exterior is plain and adorned by relatively few buttons - the copy controls are the main additions. Having said that, it's very easy to grasp. You don't get any advanced features such as PictBridge, memory card slots or LCD panels - digital camera enthusiasts will have to dig rather deeper for these accessories.

Glance over the specifications, and it's clear that Epson views the DX3800 as being pretty near the bottom of the pile. A print resolution of 5,760x1,440 is competitive - indeed, when it comes to print resolutions, there's little separating a £70 MFD from one twice as expensive. However, the scanner works with an optical resolution of just 600x2,400dpi.

The DX3800 is also rather slow, even in Epson's opinion. With quoted print speeds of 18 and 9ppm (pages per minute) for mono and colour respectively, the DX3800 struggles to impress.

Real-world speeds are even worse. Sure, at the fastest settings, it produces mono and colour at 11.5 and 3.3ppm. But the prints are so pale you wouldn't want to use them.

Bump up the quality level by one - the graphics aren't at all bad in this mode, although the text is rather patchy - and the results drop to a less inspiring 2.6ppm and 0.7ppm. In the higher quality modes, the pace drops so far as to approach unusability.

The scanning component is adequate in terms of quality, roughly keeping up with similarly priced rivals.

Epson Stylus DX3800: Specs

  • Max print resolution 5,760x1,440dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 600dpi
  • quoted print speed B=18ppm C=9ppm
  • actual print speed B=11.5ppm C=3.3ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • ink costs B=£7 C=£7 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=250 C=250
  • 1-year warranty
  • 430x346x173mm
  • 5.7kg
  • Max print resolution 5,760x1,440dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 600dpi
  • quoted print speed B=18ppm C=9ppm
  • actual print speed B=11.5ppm C=3.3ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • ink costs B=£7 C=£7 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=250 C=250
  • 1-year warranty
  • 430x346x173mm
  • 5.7kg

OUR VERDICT

While it's undoubtedly cheap, the DX3800 will really make you wait for good results. You may wish to spend more on something with a bit of clout - and even this price bracket offers better alternatives.

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