At £120 the Epson Stylus SX415 is a well-featured multi-function printer and scanner.
The Epson SX200 has been fighting it out with the Canon Pixma MP540 for top spot in our MFDs chart for some time now. While that printer costs less than £70, the SX415 is almost twice the price - if nowhere near as pricey as the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 or Lexmark X4975 also listed.
You don't get quite as many features as on the extravagant Lexmark X4975. There's no automatic duplexing, for instance, and neither does it have an ADF. And in keeping with the SX415's focus on the home user, there are no fax facilities.
Memory card support is wide-ranging (covering Sony Memory Stick to SD to xD), and the 2.5in LCD is slick and in keeping with the Epson's tidy and modern looks. The separate colour tanks make for increased flexibility and potentially less ink waste, and the capable software bundle includes the OCR package ABBYY FineReader 6.0.
As with all Epson printers, the fastest speed is something of a red herring. At around a third of the quoted figure, the actual top speed of 13.6ppm sounds impressive; but even this figure is notched up only through text so faint you'll barely see it. Some may make use of this for test runs and notes, - the reality is you'll spend far more time at the next quality mode.
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Luckily, this happens to be very good and, for an inkjet MFD, reasonably fast. At 4.1ppm you'll get dark and reasonably well-defined text. There's fuzziness if you look closely, but for an inkjet it's very presentable.
Even the photo mode (slightly cleaner again) is available at a very usable speed of 1.8ppm. You're not going to get the clarity and definition of a decent laser, but compared to most inkjets the SX415's text is professional and fast.
It works beautifully on colour images too. Again, feint output at the fastest mode is laughable but 3.2ppm for a middle mode with the quality of the Epson's is good. Images are suffused with colour, and the consistent reproduction doesn't bear even a trace of banding.
The glossier coverage of the Photo mode is available at a still-decent rate of 1.5ppm. These are figures you can really fit into an everyday schedule without having to sit around waiting for the printer.
The SX415 works smoothly as a scanner, quickly turning out colourful and realistic scans. It may not be quite as full-featured a scanner as on some MFDs, but the basic quality is good.
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