The compact USB-based Canon i320 printer is boxlike in design and plain in style. The quick-start guide and neat menu interface of the auto-loading CD-ROM make for pain-free hardware and software installation. The driver program is also comprehensive and lets users apply effects to printouts, such as monochrome or drawing effects, stamps or backgrounds, as well as create profiles for repetitive jobs. Noisier and more susceptible to paper jams than similar models, the i320’s standard document printing quality is clear and rich. Its photo output is not vibrant, but still great for its low price. The i320 comes with a power cable, print head, BCI-24BK black ink tank, BCI-24C colour ink tank, setup software, user guide CD and one-year warranty with three-year option. Retail price: $159.
Canon: (02) 9805 2000
Boasting a stylish colour scheme and a frosted hood panel, the curvy Epson Stylus C61 is aimed at SOHO and home users, and students looking for a nifty, relatively inexpensive unit. Featuring USB and parallel connectivity options on its rear, the C61 has an auto-loading CD-ROM that launches an Epson menu with the option of installing the driver or documentation. Other software is also available through the main menu and can be installed quickly and easily. The C61 was one of the fastest home office printers when it came to reproducing test documents under normal print quality at acceptable noise levels. Its draft quality printing tended to be a little pale and a slightly visible roller mark was noticeable in the highest quality tests on glossy paper. The C61 comes with a power cable, colour cartridge, black cartridge, manual, software CD and one-year warranty. Retail price: $249.
Epson: (02) 8899 3666
The silver-and-grey schemed Epson Stylus Photo 915 features a small LCD on the side of the unit that displays the printer’s progress and aids in the printing of photos from any installed memory cards. A PCMCIA slot at the base of the printer — below the remaining controls - caters for CompactFlash, SmartMedia, SD, Memory Stick and Microdrive adapters. Ports at the rear include USB and a connector for an optional TFT preview monitor. An auto-loading CD-ROM offers installation of the drivers, the user guide, image tweaking and borderless printing utilities. Another driver is integrated in the set up: an Epson card monitor that interfaces with the aforementioned memory cards. The 915 generated some fast times for normal quality tests. A paper roll feed can be used to produce continuous and panoramic images. Print quality is good in standard mode and highest quality, even though there are some noticeable roller marks on the image during the highest quality test. The Photo 915 comes with a power cord, colour cartridge, black cartridge, manual, software CD, PhotoQuicker CD and one-year warranty. Retail price: $499.
Epson: (02) 8899 3666
The HP PS7550 is the only ‘photo’ printer to ship standard with an LCD preview screen on its control panel. This lets you browse any inserted memory cards via the available CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia card/SD and Memory Stick slots and is also used to display the printer’s status. The front of the unit includes a USB port that can be used to connect any direct-printing HP digital camera. A set-up poster, software install guide, user manual and auto-loading CD-ROM ensure trouble-free installation. The comprehensive driver program has advanced features giving control over the amount of ink that is printed on a page, as well as dry time. Automatic paper type detection is featured. Although it produced quick times at the highest settings for the A4 photo test, it struggled with the finer colour details of the image: shadows across skin tones were not accurately depicted. However, it did produce one of the best PDF documents of the review. The HP PS7550 comes with a power cord, HP 57 colour print cartridge C6657A (17ml), HP 58 colour print cartridge C6658A (17ml), HP 56 black print cartridge C6656A (21ml), basics guide, HP PhotoSmart set-up placemat, HP Photo & Imaging software, HP Memories Disc Creator software (Windows only), HP photo media assortment pack and one-year warranty. Retail price: $799.
HP: 13 13 47
A beige printer with a grey sheet feeder, the Lexmark Z55se features a straight paper path and a powerful paper feed mechanism that will consume almost any type of paper. It has no support for memory cards. Setting up the printer is easy - the included guide provides instructions for both Windows and Mac environments. The printer’s highly graphical and task-oriented driver is easy to navigate. The many predetermined settings cover tasks such as printing photos or work assignments and eradicate the need to constantly fiddle with settings. The easy-to-use printer software incorporates voice notification and the GUI environment makes navigation effortless. The Z55 is a very quiet printer that proved to be a little slower than its competitors during high-quality printing tests. Draft-quality test results were similar to the standard mode on other printers, and the highest quality test on glossy paper yielded an image that was very dark. The Z55se comes with a power supply, 18L0042 high resolution colour cartridge, 18L0032 high-resolution black cartridge, set-up sheet, installation software CD, user’s guide and one-year warranty. Retail price: $269.
Lexmark: 1800 223 9090