We were also impressed with the abundance of user controls within the driver itself. For example, you can choose between several preset quality modes including Draft, Text, Text and Image, Photo, and Best Photo. Unfortunately, you can't assign shortcuts for your own preset standards. However, there's plenty of room for scene correction (people, landscape, night scene, sepia, gray), paper type, easy fixes (red eye, autofix, quiet mode), as well as a pop-up status monitor that shows ink levels, print progress by page (not many companies include the pagination progress), and a handy event manager for copy and scan modes. Epson also makes it easy to check up on the ink cartridges inside, with information on specific production dates (to monitor expired ink), manufacturer, type, and cartridge code for quick refills.
We did find ourselves pecking around for a creative software suite similar to HP's Photosmart Essential software that helps you edit and print out photos in preset templates like greeting cards and calendars. In a clear-cut case of sticking to an "all-business" philosophy, the Epson Stylus NX515 has no such software. Instead, Epson reduces much of the filler that business users don't need and simply delivers a productive, efficient machine. We can't fault it for failing to offer that extra software, so if you're uncomfortable editing photos yourself, we recommend looking into an HP printer for help along the way.
The Epson Stylus NX515 uses four individual cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink cartridges under the hood that makes a more convincing cost-efficient argument than sub-$100 printers that require ink refills every month. In this case, Epson increases the value more by offering standard and high-capacity color cartridges, and even extra-high capacity black cartridges. Using the posted cartridge yields on the Epson Web site, we calculate a page of all black ink to cost 3.1 cents and a color page to cost 3.2 cents; printers typically keep costs at less than 3 cents per page, so both prices are slightly higher than average, but not unreasonable for a device at this price.
The cost per page becomes more forgivable when you factor in the performance ratings you see here. In our speed tests, the Stylus NX515 is about average when it comes to printing photos, but it sprints ahead of the competition with presentation output speed, color graphics speed, and especially text speed. To widen the margin further, the NX515 printed a staggering 13.81 pages per minute of plain text on 20-pound white paper. Meanwhile, the next fastest printers are the HP OfficeJet J6480 and the Canon Pixma MX330 that both registered only 5.54 pages per minute, which factors out to slightly more than eight pages per minute slower than the Epson. In fact, the Epson churned out more pages per minute (text, graphics, and presentations) than any other inkjet printer we've tested to date. Look no further than the Epson Stylus NX515 printer if you need hard copies of your documents in your hand yesterday.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation speed (PPM)||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed (PPM)||Text speed (PPM)|
The printer also doesn't disappoint in terms of print quality. With so many driver options to choose from, Epson makes it easy to cater to your prints in the most efficient way possible. We tried to cycle through most of the options, including using Epson's Vivid colorspace as opposed to Adobe's RGB, but we found that Epson's preset setting produced the most pleasing and accurate images. By far, the most accurate samples came from black and colored text and graphics containing thick, black lines. Considering the cost of the printer and the consumables, we're comfortable saying that our print samples are some of the most evenly saturated, fully formed shapes we've seen in awhile. We're satisfied with the weight of thin and thick lines, and the readability is clear even down to the smallest fonts on normal white document paper. We're also equally happy with the photo quality that continues to live up to the Epson name. All the printouts display smooth quality and are free of graininess or blotchy facial tones. Again, we highly recommend the Epson Stylus NX515 for its performance alone.
Service and support
Epson backs the Epson Stylus NX515 with a limited one-year warranty that includes toll-free customer support weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Further support is available online through a model-specific troubleshooting guide, FAQs, e-mail support, driver updates, and document downloads. We're disappointed to see that Epson only includes one year of service with this device, considering the Epson Artisan 800 includes a two-year warranty. We understand that Artisan series comes with increased features and more hardware upgrades, but we're adamant in our belief that Epson should strive for user confidence across all product lines.
Find out more about how we test printers.