Epson's RX690 is a capable colour inkjet multifunction printer that provides high quality printing and scanning results. While some functions are hard to use, this Epson printer will provide home users with a great alternative to professional photo labs.
Epson provides all the necessary accessories to make the printer functional out of the box, including a USB cable, manual, setup CD and a full set of inks. The CD's driver installation was a simple process using the 'easy install' option. Custom installation is also an option, allowing experienced users to install specific drivers and software.
The printer's control panel provides easy access to the copy, memory card and special print functions, aided by a 2.5in LCD. The interface is a little difficult to use at first as the menus are generally cluttered. However, once a user is accustomed to the system, its capabilities are actually quite extensive. Users can view their photos as a slideshow, print an index sheet of photos, and even print the frames of a motion JPEG movie from a memory card. The reprint/restore photos feature is particularly impressive, as it allows the user to scan faded photographs and restore their colour before reprinting.
The print quality overall was excellent. In our tests, we compared the RX690's results with Canon's multifunction equivalent, the PIXMA MP970. Both printers provide outstanding quality, although with different colour biases. In testing with high-quality prints, the Epson yielded defined blacks and realistic flesh tones, whereas the Canon produced a vibrant yellowish tone while sacrificing black and red tones somewhat. Real-world photography that features darker tones and people in the shots gave Epson the edge in terms of photo print quality tests, but the PIXMA MP970 excelled in reproducing outdoor landscape photos.
When printing documents with a combination of text and graphics, the RX690 was less likely to provide vibrant, colour-intense results than the Canon, particularly with draft and standard quality tests. While the Epson results are still readable, the colour intensity is light, possibly as an ink saving measure. CD/DVD printing was of a good quality, especially on matte printable media.
In our 600dpi scanning tests, the Canon scans revealed a higher level of contrast than the Epson. The RX690's lower contrast provided more detail in darker test images, but had a dull overtone in bright scans. It also produced realistic colour representation when compared to the original image, particularly with brighter source images.
The printing speeds for the RX690 are acceptable. The printer managed to produce 5.1 pages per minute (ppm) for a standard text document and 4.9ppm for documents including graphics. Photos were printed at a reasonable speed, with A4-sized photos printing in a minute and a half and 4x6-inch prints in 53 seconds.
The RX690 supports most popular memory cards, including SD, SDHC, XD, CompactFlash, and Memory Stick, though multimedia cards (MMC) are not supported. There is also a USB port for using PictBridge printing directly a compatible camera or mobile phone. Scanning directly to memory cards is a useful addition.
The printer has two paper trays and is able to accommodate up to 300 sheets of plain A4 paper, which is more than adequate for most uses. However, as it lacks an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) and auto-duplex, this printer is better suited for the home than a small office with medium printing needs.