People like a single integrated device that meets several related needs, especially when it comes to electronics. In one compact box, the Epson Stylus Photo RX620 combines a digital photo lab with a home inkjet multifunction. You can approach this machine kiosk-style to print digital photos straight from memory cards or PictBridge cameras and to make scans and photocopies, or plug it into your computer to use the bundled software. The RX620 even comes with an adapter so that you can dust off and scan slides and film negatives--a feature surprisingly rare among photo multifunctions and perhaps its best selling point. For all this, the $299 price tag is reasonable, but two failings--slow output and disappointing print quality--make the RX620 hard to recommend over the similarly priced or even the lower-budget Brother MFC-420cn. We like the Epson Stylus Photo RX620's straightforward, attractive design. This rounded, glossy, dark-gray-and-silver device stands a foot high and covers 17.5 by 18 inches of desk space. No trays or flaps stick out, since paper feeds from a 120-sheet vertical slot in back and exits into a pocket in the base of the machine. This all-in-one can print legal-size documents, but they'll flop unsupported over the letter-size paper tray.
The RX620's front face provides a PictBridge port for connecting to a digital camera, plus four slots that accept CompactFlash Types I and II, MicroDrive, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, xD Picture, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and Memory Stick Duo digital-camera memory cards. The centerpiece of the control panel is a brightly lit 2-by-1.5-inch color LCD that displays photos from the flash cards. Since the RX620 doesn't fax, no numeric keypad clutters its panel layout.
The lid for the scanner and copier slides up on its pegs and detaches completely to make room for fat books. With an easy tug, the white backing inside the lid also comes off, revealing a transparency backlight and a template that can hold four mounted slides or a six-exposure strip of 35mm negative film for scanning. The glass bed accommodates letter and A4 size paper to scan or copy, too, but it lacks an ADF (automatic document feeder), so it can't capture larger documents.
Maintaining the RX620 is straightforward. The top half of the RX620 lifts up wide on its hinges, so that even ham-handed people can reach the six inks inside. You can replace each ink color individually as it runs dry, unlike most other all-in-ones, such as the HP Photosmart 7210, that force you to spring for a new multicolor cartridge when just one color runs out.The Epson Stylus Photo RX620's capabilities emphasize working without a computer, so you can pop a digital photo memory card into the machine and use the control panel LCD to crop, resize, and even tweak brightness and contrast on the images, then print them. You can also insert a slide into the transparency adapter, scan it, and clean up scratches or restore faded colors without consulting your computer--easy to do, although our test scans lacked focus and details. Using the LCD menus, you can even plug a USB 2.0-compatible CD burner directly into the front of the RX620, to burn photos from your memory cards straight to a CD.
The machine's LCD menus are easy to navigate. However, it took us a while to get used to the menus' lack of a home screen: the LCD continues to display the last item you looked at, even after restarting, which could confuse first-time users. But we like that, unlike most devices in this class, you can enlarge or reduce photocopies by indicating the percentage or by entering the sizes of the original and the final.
Epson provides plenty of software for operating the RX620 from a computer, too. The printer driver, compatible with Windows versions since 98, plus Mac OS 9.1 and up, has basic and advanced modes. Basic mode lets you pick the image type, while Advanced lets you control contrast, brightness, saturation, and individual color densities, though you get slim choices over positioning watermarks and picking their colors.
The RX620's software package clusters around Epson's Smart Panel, a floating window with buttons that open the application appropriate to your task. You get Epson Scan for directing a scan job; Copy Center to set up photocopies; and a full version of image editor ArcSoft PhotoImpression 5.0, unlike other machines such as the Dell 962, which come with demo versions of software for editing photos and creating photo-intensive projects. Unlike the , Epson doesn't provide a document-archiving database to organize your photos. Nor do you get OCR (optical character recognition) software that would convert scanned text to a Word file; this makes sense, given that the slow scanning and lack of an ADF (automatic document feeder) make the RX620 an inappropriate choice for text-intensive office work anyway. The is a better bet for all-around business use.
Tanks of ink run $19.99 for black and $12.34 for each of five colors. According to Epson's estimates, ink costs about 3.4 cents for a page of plain black text, and about 17.9 cents for a lightly covered page of graphics, on the high end compared to similar products. A heavily inked full-page photo would use more than that, of course, but if you print glossy, high-quality photos, the cost of paper might dwarf that of the ink.