The Epson Stylus SX200 is an inexpensive multifunction printer with a difference - it's also cheap to run.

The multifunction printer market has some brilliantly priced models. Check out PC Advisor's multifunction printer reviews and you'll find several printer, copier, scanners costing less than £100. But while these deals can look good on paper, the reality of living with them is often something else entirely, and with the cost per page frequently running at 5p or more, these printers can end up eating a long way into your bank balance.

That's why a model such as the Epson Stylus SX200 is such a good idea. It's £80 price tag is already sweet, and its ink costs (provided you go for the high capacity black cartridge) soon compensate. And because the four colours all come in individual tanks, using up one shade doesn't mean you have to throw away all of the other colours, just so that you can carry on printing.

But the Epson Stylus SX200 isn't just about saving on running costs. We recently reviewed its big brother, the EpsonSX400. Since the latter costs one-and-a-half times as much again, you'd think the printers wouldn't have much in common. Actually, they look remarkably similar.

The Epson Stylus SX200 does without such high-end fripperies as a colour LCD, although the SX200's battery of buttons makes it extremely easy to use. And like its big brother, you can access connect cameras and memory cards - although on the latter, as with the SX400, your memory card print options are rather more limited then they are when connected to a desktop PC.

The Epson Stylus SX200 isn't the fastest of printers. The text figure of 13.3 pages per minute (ppm) in draft is average, even though, in keeping with Epsons of the past, the output in this mode is almost unacceptably faint so as to keep speed up. In reality, you'll have to settle for a speed of 4.1ppm should you want half-decent quality print, and really, the only moderately clean text you can get is delivered at a sluggish rate just half that.

For the price, however, the Epson Stylus SX200 is quite good at colour, delivering very decent quality images at a solid rate of 3.1ppm. The results with photo paper are good, although obviously not up to the standard of a £100+ photo printer.

The scanning facilities are quite adequate, with good faithful reproduction possible - albeit not at a particularly fast rate. In general we found the Epson Stylus SX200 to be a sturdy model that carried out its duties with few problems. The noise levels are perhaps a little high, but inkjets are rarely noted for their discreet performance.

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Epson Stylus SX200: Specs

  • Printer/Scanner/Copier
  • Quoted print speed B=34ppm C=34ppm
  • Actual print speed B=13.3ppm C=10.7ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 450x342x182mm
  • Weight 7.5kg
  • Toner costs B=£9 C=£6
  • Print life (pages) B=385 C=270-405
  • flash memory drive
  • 1-year warranty
  • Printer/Scanner/Copier
  • Quoted print speed B=34ppm C=34ppm
  • Actual print speed B=13.3ppm C=10.7ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 450x342x182mm
  • Weight 7.5kg
  • Toner costs B=£9 C=£6
  • Print life (pages) B=385 C=270-405
  • flash memory drive
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

While the SX400 is rather overpriced, the leaner Epson Stylus SX200 is a very different model. Not particularly fast, but capable of some good results given the time, it's a great option for those who want a well-priced multifunction printer, but without the high running costs.

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