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Epson Stylus Photo RX500 review: Epson Stylus Photo RX500

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Printing performance
All-in-one printers tend to be better at some tasks than others, and the Epson Stylus Photo RX500 is no exception. When tested against similar six-ink multifunction printers, CNET Labs found the RX500's print engine to be quite slow. On monochrome text, the RX500 printed at a sluggish 2.0 pages per minute (ppm), not as bad as the HP PSC 1350's 1.8ppm, but nowhere near the Lexmark P3150's 4.3ppm or the Epson Stylus CX6400's 4.8ppm. The RX500 fared much better, however, with 8x10 color photos, printing at 4.3 minutes per page (mpp), which is faster than the P3150's 4.7mpp but slower than the CX6400's 3.0mpp and significantly faster than the HP PSC 1350's 13.4mpp.

In CNET Labs tests, the Epson Stylus Photo RX500 produced jagged edges on monochrome text, even when using Epson inkjet paper. Our mixed color and monochrome graphics test document fared no better, showing visible dithering throughout, meaning you could see the discrete colored dots that make up an image instead of seeing a smoothly blended shade. Photos, of course, looked better--much crisper and less dithered. Although the photo quality was good, we still saw some horizontal banding in the backgrounds.

Scanning performance
The Epson Stylus Photo RX500's 7.5ppm scanning rate was much faster than the HP PSC 1350's 5.4ppm and the Lexmark P1350's 5.3ppm. The Epson Stylus Photo RX500 captured fine details clearly in photos and reproduced tricky gradients smoothly in each scan. However, the RX500's copy speeds were middle-of-the-road at 1.5mpp, faster than the CX6400's 3.4mpp, though not as fast as the HP PSC 1350's 0.40mpp.

In terms of consumables, the Epson Stylus Photo RX500 was on a par with other six-ink photo inkjets we've seen, averaging $1.05 per page when printing our 8.5x11 test photo. If you print mostly 4x6 photos, your real-world costs will be about half that. Unlike HP and Lexmark, Epson uses separate ink tanks, so you replace only the color that runs out instead of buying a new multicolor cartridge.

Multifunction printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Epson CX6400
4.8 
Lexmark 3150
4.3 
Epson RX500
2.0 
HP PSC 1350
1.4 

Multifunction color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Epson CX6400
3.0 
Epson RX500
4.3 
Lexmark 3150
4.7 
HP PSC 1350
13.4 

Inkjet printer quality
•Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics  8.5 x 11 color image
 Epson CX6400 ••• ••• •••
 Epson RX500 •• •• •••
 HP PSC 1350 ••• ••• ••••
 Lexmark 3150 •••• •• ••

The Epson Stylus Photo RX500 comes with an industry-standard one-year warranty that can be extended to two or three years for $70 and $100, respectively. Epson offers toll-free, 24/7, automated tech support via phone or fax. Live tech support is available Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, but you'll have to pay the long-distance charges. By comparison, HP's warranty on the PSC 1350 is a much better deal, covering free shipping for repairs and toll-free, 24/7 tech support for one year. It can be extended to three years for $65.

The Epson Web site has an adequate selection of drivers, documentation, and FAQs, along with an interactive help engine and access to e-mail tech support.

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