Epson specialises in printers (inkjet and laser) as well as manufacturing projectors and receipt printers. A Japanese company by birth, Epson made the world's first mini printer in 1968 and they've been at it ever since. Intended for the home or a small office, the CX5900 is a multifunction device with print, scan and copy capabilities.
Presented in silver and charcoal grey, the Stylus is a neat and professional looking machine. The main control panel is set in to the left of the scan plate with data ports in the front panel, protected by a small spring-loaded door to keep out dust. Power and USB cable sockets are accessible at the rear. The control panel includes a number of LED lights with buttons that display current settings. The LCD display is small, but adequate. Epson have carefully engineered this machine to be attractive, easy to use, and smooth in its operation. As the name suggests, you could proudly display this piece of technology on your desktop.
The Stylus CX5900 is a borderless photo printer with scanning and copying functionality. Direct photo printing is via PictBridge from your digital camera or from xD, SD, MemoryStick and CF cards. Four separate, and equally sized, ink canisters are used by the Stylus. There is only a single paper feed tray available which will take up to A4 sized paper.
While the control panel provides for copying and direct photo printing, Epson also include software for your PC enabling greater flexibility. The flatbed scanner is hinged to allow the easy placement of thick documents such as magazines or text books. An automatic document feeder would have been a useful addition, but cannot really be expected given the price.
Epson make quite a fuss about its coated ink particles which are specially designed to reduce spreading on the page, and there is certainly some justification to the claims given the sharp demarcation between colours on our test patterns.
Its copy sensitivity was impressively high. Having printed and then copied a greyscale test, the scanner picked up gradings right down to approximately 15 percent -- far better than many of the other machines that can only scan down to approximately 30 percent. It did, however, also print its greys a little darker than other machines. Scan quality was also generally very pleasing from this machine.
We were pleased with the scan quality of the CX5900.
Click to enlarge.
When printing, the Epson was disappointingly slow. Even in draft mode we tested colour print speeds of only 10.8 pages per minute (ppm). Its specifications claim up to 27ppm. Fine lines were a little rough, but its reproduction of colours and gradients remained excellent. In our opinion the magenta was a little dull whereas the yellow was particularly vibrant.
Despite the roughness of standard paper, it did not result in obvious ink speckling (in solid fills) as we often see with many other printers. In its normal mode the print speed dropped down to about 1.7 peak pages per minute (colour or monochrome) and 1.8 average pages per minute. Having tested comparative photo printing on Canon's, Brother's and Epson's paper, we can recommend sticking to Epson's for finer print quality.
The black cartridge is stated to have a lifespan of 245 A4 pages meaning it costs about 6c per page in black and white (assuming 5 percent coverage).
While its printing on photo paper was typical of inkjet printers, the performance on plain paper was extraordinary in terms of vibrancy and detail, though it was slightly spoiled by occasional fine horizontal lines.
The standard one year warranty can be extended to three years if desired.