Epson's Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction offers plenty of features including Wi-Fi and a fax, plus its low consumable costs are certainly a boon for small business users. The low asking price of $249 makes this an affordable printer but the colour print quality and print speeds may frustrate everyday users.
The Epson Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction boasts a similar design and features to the Stylus Photo TX800FW including a closable automatic document feeder and adjustable control panel. You also get a PictBridge USB port and card reader supporting xD, MemoryStick, SD and CompactFlash cards; an appreciated addition even if this is an office-focussed machine.
However, the Stylus Office TX610FW multifunction lacks several features found on its premium counterpart, including the 7.8in touch screen and front-facing paper cassette. The touchscreen is replaced by a standard control panel with large buttons and a colour LCD display, making it easy to use. Epson has implemented a rear paper tray — instead of the aforementioned paper cassette — which does take up more desk space, so this multifunction device cannot easily fit in tight spots. The media guide on the rear paper tray is also difficult to adjust, making paper jams and misaligned results more possible.
For the sub-$250 price, the Stylus Office TX610FW multifunction includes USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as standard fax ports. Bluetooth can be added through an optional adapter for $79.
Wi-Fi can be set up and configured directly from the Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction. Though you can use the fax keypad to enter the WEP, WPA or WPA2 keyphrase, you can also connect the multifunction to wireless routers which support Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), SecureEasySetup (SES) or Windows Connect Now (WCN) technologies. As we expected, Wi-Fi must be disabled in order to use the Ethernet port, so both interfaces won't work simultaneously. Unfortunately, if you switch between Ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces, you will have to step through the Wi-Fi setup process each time.
Though using the Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction over a USB connection is easy, network and Wi-Fi use can be fickle. Though we managed to setup network scanning and printing using the bundled EpsonNet Setup application, we had to initiate all scans from the computer; the printer's control panel refused to let us scan to anything other than USB-connected computers and memory cards. Thankfully, read/write access for memory cards is possible over all three interfaces, and should automatically appear as a shared folder over a wired or wireless network. Our experimentation with printer settings eventually allowed us to access most network-based functions, but setup definitely isn't as easy as it should be.
Epson claims the high yield black cartridges yields 995 pages while the three colour cartridges have a composite yield of 815 pages. While we were unable to fully test the accuracy of these claims, we hardly made a dent in the ink yield during testing, which is definitely a pleasant surprise. The high yield consumables are also extremely good value at 11.3c per A4 page, which is slightly less than the similarly priced HP Officejet Pro 8000 and somewhat cheaper than some low-end colour lasers.
However, the Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction won't compete with either the Office Pro 8000 or colour lasers when it comes to print speed. Draft colour and monochrome documents printed at an average speed of 20 pages per minute (ppm) which, while reasonable, was often inconsistent and of insufficient quality for most print uses. Boosting the print quality setting to normal slowed the print speeds to 15.1ppm for monochrome documents and to 8.2ppm for colour. A standard 4x6in photo printed in approximately 57 seconds while an A4-sized photos took significantly longer with recorded speeds of 2min 40secs.
In our tests — with the printer set to Best mode — the text-only documents output on plain paper were readable although not an outstanding quality, while colour documents produced in this mode were acceptable. The colour was slightly oversaturated in most cases.
We also experienced several colour misalignment issues despite running several maintenance tasks prior to testing. Our monochrome image print test showed that the Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction had difficulty producing deep blacks and photos in general generally had washed-out colours. Print quality will suffice for documents around the office and the odd colour print.
Scanning to a memory card or PC is quite simple, though we would have liked to the ability to scan over a network or directly into optical character recognition (OCR) software. Scan quality is suitable for both text documents and photo prints.
Though the Epson Stylus Office TX610FW inkjet multifunction isn't entirely suited to the networked office, its initial price tag and ongoing running costs are key advantages to having this in a small office environment.
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