Editors' note: The Editors' Choice designation for this product has been removed simply to reflect the general improvement of technology over time.
The Epson Stylus CX6600 inkjet multifunction capably copies, prints, and scans photos, images, and text. The four-color CX6600 is vendor-rated to print up to 22 pages per minute (ppm) of text and 11ppm color, though, as with most printers, it didn't print that fast in our tests. Its digital reader slots accept a variety of popular memory cards to let you print photos instantly without having to turn on your computer. The bundled software supports photo editing, and the CX6600 allows standalone copying as well as printing from or scanning to a media card. The CX6600 includes extras such as sample photo paper and access to Epson's photo Web sites, but you'll have to buy your own USB cable, now common among printers. The CX6600's stylish design, features, and ink-sipping performance make it an efficient and affordable choice for small offices and home users, particularly those who don't want to invest in a separate photo printer. Like its predecessor, the, the Epson Stylus CX6600 features an easy-to-use design housed in a squat, bulbous machine. The 17.75-by-23-by-12-inch multifunction (WDH) weighs 18.8 pounds without its four ink cartridges installed; average heft for a multifunction. When in use, the paper input tray and the scanner lid demand extra clearance in the back and on top of the machine.
The power plug attaches in the back of the CX6600, and the cable plugs into the USB 2.0 port under the scanner bed on the machine's left side. All control buttons are conveniently located within easy view and reach on the sloped front control panel. Clearly marked On, Start, and Stop buttons plus a red light and an LCD for error messages simplify usage as well.
Three slots, located front and center below the control panel, support a variety of popular memory cards--convenient for printing straight from a camera. We applaud the CX6600's wide array of supported cards--more than its ancestor--including Compact Flash Types I and II, MultiMedia Card, IBM Microdrive, xD-Picture Card, Sony Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MagicGate Memory Stick, SmartMedia, and Secure Digital.
Installation is easy with the enclosed setup sheet and CD-ROM. Like its predecessor, the CX6600 is compatible with Windows 98 and up and Macintosh OS 8.6 and later but not Linux.The control panel buttons allow the Epson Stylus CX6600 to copy and print images from a digital memory card and even scan to a card without using your computer. Eight buttons near the LCD light up when selected to copy, print, and scan. The CX6600 comes with 8MB of memory, which can't be upgraded.
The CX6600 features a reasonably sized 150-sheet input tray behind the scanner lid on top, but the 30-sheet output tray in front is smaller than average. A removable scanner lid, which slips off almost too easily, helps you copy and scan large documents or objects, such as thick books.
The CX6600 offers a range of useful copying and printing options. You can adjust a copy for paper type and print quality; reduce, enlarge, and make borderless copies; copy two originals onto one sheet; and zoom in or out from 25 percent to 400 percent. You can also store your preferred copy settings for future use. The CX6600's printing options cover the basics that many users seek, although sometimes plain paper feeds incorrectly, cutting off the top margin. You can set the print quality to optimize a mix of text and images; print envelopes and double-sided documents; do n-up printing to shrink-fit more than one document onto a single page, and create your own watermarks. You can also make borderless prints in sizes ranging from 4x6 inches to letter size.
The CX6600 was designed for scanning and tweaking scans, too. You can scan at 1,200x2,400dpi to a memory card, to a TWAIN-compliant application, to non-AOL e-mail, or to your computer's own fax program. The CX6600 also prints incoming faxes automatically through software. The bundled software, including ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ArcSoft Greeting Card Creator, and , help you edit and manipulate scanned images and text well enough to satisfy most small-office or home-office needs. Epson's Smart Panel software accesses these programs, so you can sharpen images and restore color, create photo projects, and edit scanned text. The CX6600 also accesses Epson's photo-sharing and photo-craft Web sites, which offer templates and clip art to download for designing scrapbooks, greeting cards, and calendars.
Ink costs for the CX6600 are refreshingly affordable for an inkjet printer. A high-capacity black ink cartridge runs $33.24, averaging 2.7 cents per page for text and 3.8 cents per page for graphics. A standard capacity black ink cartridge, at $23.74, averaging 4.4 cents per page for text and 6.2 cents for each graphics page. Each color ink cartridge costs $12.34, which averages 2.9 cents per page. Since a color print can use all four CMYK cartridges, the true cost of one sheet of graphics totals 13 to 15 cents--still reasonable. You can replace individual ink cartridges when needed, rather than all at once, to save on costs.The Epson CX6600 performed very well in CNET Labs' tests, averaging about 5ppm to print text and spending 3 minutes to finish a high-quality 8x10 photo. These scores rank among the fastest in the Epson family and above average for multifunction inkjet printers.