Epson's all-in-one Epson Stylus Photo RX585 performs well as a scanner and photo printer, but falls short on quality for other general-purpose tasks.
The £129 Epson Stylus Photo RX588 could appeal to many photo hobbyists due to its fast scanning and high-quality glossy photos. But users who need a general-purpose device will likely be let down by the RX585's subpar copies and prints on plain paper.
The Epson Stylus Photo RX585's 2.5in colour LCD sits in the middle of a simple but effective control panel. Below it, the two media slots accept all the common digital-camera memory card formats. When you're printing from a memory card, the controls provide a variety of editing options, including cropping, red-eye removal, black-and-white and sepia effects, and greeting-card creation.
You can use the USB port to print directly from a PictBridge-compatible camera or flash drive; you also can connect the Epson Stylus Photo RX585 to a CD burner to archive images from a memory card. In addition, you can plug in an optional Bluetooth adaptor - priced at around £20 - for printing from a suitably equipped cameraphone or PDA. An IrDA sensor lets you beam images from handheld devices with infrared transmitters.
The glass platen lets you scan pages up to letter size, although the Epson Stylus Photo RX585 offers neither an automatic document feeder nor film-scanning capabilities. You can load up to 120 sheets of paper in the upright feeder at the rear of the printer, but there is no second paper tray. The RX585 does, however, come with a special tray for printing directly onto blank CDs and DVDs - a unique feature. In the box you get ArcSoft's PhotoImpression photo-management and editing package, but Epson supplies no OCR (optical character recognition) software.
The Epson Stylus Photo RX585 prints using six inks from individual cartridges, adding light cyan and light magenta to the typical three primary colours. On photo paper the Epson Stylus Photo RX585 produced sharp images with vibrant colours and good shadow detail. However, our judges noticed distinct banding among blue and green tones in one of our photos. Print quality on plain paper was disappointing. Text appeared slate gray, and the edges of characters were so jagged and fuzzy, they almost looked like dot-matrix-printer output. Line art was similarly grayish, with lots of horizontal banding and dotted diagonal lines.
Photos printed on plain paper had dull and muddy colours, solid areas suffered occasional dropouts, and some strange pink banding appeared in places. The Epson Stylus Photo RX585's copy quality was equally dismal, earning a score of Poor; text looked very gray and fuzzy, making it difficult to read. Similarly, the Epson Stylus Photo RX585 scored below the average for scan quality.
In our speed tests, text pages printed at just 3.9ppm (pages per minute) about four times slower than the similarly priced Canon Pixma MP600. Photo print speeds were more competitive, however. Photos printed at 2.8ppm on plain paper, while our 5x7in test image on photo paper arrived in 45 seconds - both times were a little above average. The Epson Stylus Photo RX585 scans quickly, and completed our 4x5in test photo at 100dpi in just 7.1 seconds. On the other hand, plain-paper copies emerged at an unremarkable 2.4ppm.
The Epson Stylus Photo RX585 looks nice and is easy to use, and its CD-printing feature is unique. Still, its limited paper handling and slow, poor-quality printing on plain paper limit its value as a general-purpose device.