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Epson CX9300F

Epson CX9300F

While the CX9300F is a capable photo printer, Epson is aiming the multifunction device at the business end of the market. This is why it also comes equipped with fax, as well as scan and copy functions. Even so, it's not a typical looking business device; it has a memory card reader and glossy trim that will look more at home in... well, a home environment than an office.

As a printer and copier, the CX9300F is fairly efficient. Four cartridges are required for printing -- cyan, magenta, yellow and black -- and these cost about $16 each. When printing typical office documents -- letters and pages with black text, highlighted text and colour graphs -- ISO tests have determined that the colour cartridges will yield 335 pages, while the black will yield 245. Of course, if you throw in the odd photo and graphics-rich PDF document, this will change the numbers dramatically. When one colour runs out, you won't be able to continue printing until that colour has been replaced, so for productivity's sake, spare cartridges should be kept in the office at all times.

Print quality was sharp on our photo prints, but looked a little duller than expected on Epson's 4x6in glossy paper. At the highest quality setting, 4x6in prints were also sluggish (we waited about 4min for each print), but since this unit isn't designed to be used as a regular photo printer that's nothing to worry about. Its document print speed won't reach the lofty heights of a laser printer, but we measured its output at four pages per minute (the first page out took 18sec), using the printer's 'text' mode, which is a little slow.

On plain paper, the printer's text quality looked a little 'feathery', but was dark and easy to read. Text with highlights was reproduced cleanly on plain paper, and looked sharp when printed on glossy paper, but some purple fringing was noticeable around black lettering. As for colour, we found red, blue and green to be slightly subdued, which made many prints, especially on plain paper, look a little dull. For most business documents, this shouldn't be a problem.

Photocopies can be made using either the flatbed or the automatic document feeder, and up to 99 copies can be made in one hit. Copying from the flatbed is quicker than copying from the feeder, so only use the feeder for multi-page documents.

Scans can only be initiated from a PC, unfortunately -- there is no shortcut button on the unit itself for starting a scan, so there is also no option to scan documents directly to a memory card. Coloured scans at 300dpi will take about 29sec to complete and minute details in images will be captured. We did find scanned colours to be a little redder than our original document, even when we printed them. Conveniently, if a long print job is underway, the scanner can still be used.

The unit has an Energy Star logo for environmental friendliness, which was earned due to its power rating and ability to print on both sides of the paper (albeit manually). We measured its power consumption at 9.6W of electricity when printing (10W when printing and scanning simultaneously), and less then 4W when idle or when in sleep mode.

The unit ships with a USB cable and the automatic document feeder is standard. It can print on both sides of the paper, although this has to be accomplished manually by flipping the pages, and it will accommodate memory cards as well as PictBridge cameras. While its paper handling is modest compared to a laser printer, this is a capable and affordable unit for any office that requires fax, colour copy and print functions.


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