HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One N911g - multifunction printer ( colour )stars
HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One
Epson WorkForce 845 - multifunction printer ( colour )stars
Epson WorkForce 845 All-in-One Printer
HP LaserJet Pro P1606stars
HP LaserJet Pro P1606
Brother HL-2270DW - printer - monochrome - laserstars
Released in time for the back-to-school season, Epson squeezes a printer, scanner, and copy machine into a small device it's calling the "small-in-one." The Stylus NX430 occupies roughly the same amount of desk space as your average Blu-ray player, and it performed twice as fast as the four other competitive models, with high-scoring quality results to boot. We recommend investing in Epson's extra-large-capacity ink refill tanks if you print a large volume of full-color documents and photos, but if price and space hold top priority on your printer shopping list, the $99 Epson Stylus NX430 is worth your dollar.
Design and features
The Stylus NX430's space-saving design is the printer's main focus, measuring a little more than 15 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 11 inches tall. Relative to other printers, its size falls somewhere between a single function inkjet and a color laser printer, but at 9 pounds it's only half the weight of the average color laser printer and ideal for offices that frequently move workstations.
The center control panel sits within a console that rotates up to a suitable viewing angle. Though I'm not usually a fan of virtual-only button layouts, I like that the only buttons that light up on the NX430 are the four-way directional pad and the power on and off controls--the rest of the functions illuminate depending on the particular function you're accessing.
I did notice that the screen on this machine feels distinctly less responsive than the capacitive touch dials on the higher-end WorkForce 845 All-in-One. By contrast, NX430's plastic surrounding the screen has a tendency to flex as you press down on it, lending a mushy feeling to menu navigation. The screen itself never gave me trouble in terms of virtual button actuation, however.
I can't fault a $99 device for not including an auto-document feeder or multiple paper input trays, so all paper handling is fed through the single tray on the back and exits through the "mouth" below the controls. You'll also notice a memory card reader up front that lets you walk up and print from an expansion card without actually touching a computer. You can preview your photos on the ample 2.5-inch LCD touch panel, and even make simple adjustments to crop dimensions, resize, or perform one-button touch-ups.
Epson gives you the option to connect the printer to your computer using direct USB or Wi-Fi. I assume most of you will prefer the latter, since Epson doesn't include a USB cable in the box. Smart setup on the touch panel is a two-part process: turn on the machine and click Network Setting, then designate your wireless network and enter its password, and that's it. The entire setup from start to finish, with a connection established on our lab network, took us less than 2 minutes. The installation process also includes a step that asks if you want the system to automatically hunt and install firmware updates, and we recommend you click "yes" when prompted; the appeal of Web-connected printers like the NX430 means you don't have to wait for Epson to ship you software updates, so take advantage of it.
Connecting through Wi-Fi also means you can take advantage of Epson's host of free mobile printing apps that let you print directly from mobile devices. First, the Epson iPrint application for iOS and Android devices enables you to print Web pages, photos, documents, and anything else on a smartphone directly to the WorkForce NX430, though I noticed the printer cropped photos when I flipped orientation from portrait to landscape and vice versa, so I wouldn't recommend using the app to print important images like business presentations this way; it's more appropriate for quick outputs of snapshot photos and to-do lists.
In our speed tests, the Stylus NX430 performed at an average rate 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 14.11 pages per minute of plain text on plain white paper.