EPSON STYLUS C79 – PRICE $75
Build quality isn’t usually great at these budget prices, but the C79 didn’t give us much confidence at all. It felt flimsy and rattled when it printed. It’s a printer only, so there’s no copying or scanning. At this price, the individual ink tanks are truly remarkable, but the overall print quality did nothing for us. The glossy photo print quality, even on Epson paper, was ordinary and just looked wrong, thanks to colours that didn’t match our original test images. The text print quality was only marginally better, with noticeable bleeding on plain paper. It had Vista drivers, but really, this just isn’t a printer we could recommend.
Reviewers says: Individual ink tanks are great, but it has poor print quality and lacks features.
LEXMARK Z1420 – PRICE $85
The Z1420 only prints, but it’s a rarity at this price in that it includes a wireless network connection. That means you can have the printer in your home office and still print your documents from your Wi-Fi notebook as you laze by the pool. More practically, it means anyone in your home with a Wi-Fi-enabled computer can use the printer. It also has a USB connection (our preferred test method). With the $32 tri-colour cartridge giving us just 16 A4 photo prints, it was the most expensive sub-$100 to run. While its photo prints were quite good, we didn’t like the text print quality here. The Z1420 produced poor character definition at normal print speeds, which were better than most in this group, although overall, it’s still overpriced.
Reviewers says: Wi-Fi printing is a good idea, but it helps to have good all-round printing.
MFCs under $150
This was one of the easiest categories to judge, with the MP510 coming way out in front. It’s the only one in this group with a colour LCD and it just comes in under $1511. It easily outlasted every other printer in this category during our cartridge rundown test, producing 74 A4 photo prints for the lowest cost per colour page of the group. The next best result was 44 prints from the Brother DCP-1300. The MP180 showed the biggest weight differential in ‘before’ and ‘after’ tests. Not only was it the cheapest to run, its print quality was excellent, with its glossy photo prints the highlight. Its text print quality was also the best in the group. It also features a 1,200 x 2,400dpi optical resolution flatbed scanner and the unit has Vista drivers on the installation CD. It has PictBridge and all the major flash memory cards are supported, so you can print photos without a computer.
Reviewers says: Comes as close as we’ve seen to the perfect all-in-one for under $150.