Almost as soon as laser printers started appearing on the market for less than £200, you could hear the printing market bringing down the curtain on the humble and supposedly outdated inkjet. The printers may have cost less, but they couldn't compete on quality (certainly not when it came to text) and they definitely couldn't compete on speed. But Epson isn't prepared to write off the inkjet just yet, and the Epson Stylus D120 contains a few novelties that might just breathe some life back into the technology.
The Epson Stylus D120's main innovation is the Dual Black Ink System. Rather than containing one black cartridge, the Epson Stylus D120 actually houses two of them. This gives the Epson Stylus D120 a lot more flexibility when it comes to choosing what ink to print and when. Add to this the fact that the Epson Stylus D120's print head contains twice the number of black ink nozzles as usual, and the D120 suddenly starts to look slightly different to its rivals.
So do the results match the hype? Well, first of all, forget about the fastest performance figures. The Epson Stylus D120 can output text at the rate of 16.7 pages per minute in draft mode, but the results here are rather too pale to be of real use. However, go up to the Epson Stylus D120's Text mode, and speed only falls to 13.3ppm. The text is certainly dark and quite legible from a distance, although if you look closely, you'll find the character definition slightly fuzzy. Even in the highest mode (speed here falls to a numbing 1.7ppm), the output isn't totally crisp. So for decent text output you can certainly use the Epson Stylus D120, but for really good text reproduction, it won't pass inspection.
For colour graphics, though, the Epson Stylus D120 has plenty to offer - provided you don't mind waiting. Again, you won't want to bother with the washed out draft mode, and the next fastest quality setting fell to a sluggish 1ppm. The results, though, were extremely attractive, with bright and vibrant colours and very decent image definition. And the pictures produced by the Epson Stylus D120 were even more sparkling at the highest mode - although the 0.5ppm might test the patience rather.
Epson claims that the Stylus D120 is excellent for business use, but we'd dispute that. Even with two black ink cartridges, the Epson Stylus D120's text output is ordinary and in no way compares to that of a cheap laser printer. However, the Epson Stylus D120's colour output is good. The speed isn't fantastic, but provided you don't mind waiting, you'll find the results very palatable.