Epson Stylus Photo RX640

You might expect Epson’s Stylus Photo RX640 to be an evolution of the lower-end Stylus Photo RX520 we reviewed in our March issue. But despite a passing resemblance, this new product is quite different, both in looks and use.

It’s as if Epson has a different team of designers for each of its products, and this lack of consistency can be a little off-putting, especially for those who are upgrading from an existing Epson product. In particular, we found it difficult to get used to the Stylus Photo RX640’s on-screen menu system (displayed, by the way, on an excellent 2.5in LCD screen) and the associated control panel, neither of which is as intuitive or easy to use as on some other Epson devices.

That said, considering the multitude of functions on offer, the Stylus Photo RX640 is relatively straightforward to use, and experienced Epson users will recognise the printer and scanner driver software, as well as the usual huge bundle of mostly useless additional software, such as Epson Print Image Framer and Epson Creativity Suite.

There are some useful tools supplied too, such as ArcSoft PhotoImpression for those who don’t have a copy of Photoshop, and Epson Print CD, which, as its name implies, is for designing covers for printable CD media. This works in conjunction with the supplied CD/DVD-printing tray, which is just one of the features Epson includes to make this product what it calls an “advanced all-in-one photo centre”.

As well as optical media, the Stylus Photo RX640 is designed to handle a wide variety of media, including heavyweight matte card, and the new Epson Ultra Glossy photo paper. Other “photo centre” features include a PictBridge port for printing direct from digital cameras, the full complement of memory card slots, and a film/slide scanner adaptor. One novel combination of these features is the ability to scan photos direct to a memory card, although we struggled to come up with a reason why you’d want to do this.

It comes as no surprise for an Epson photo printer to produce truly stunning output. There’s no higher praise for inkjet-photo output than to say it’s totally indistinguishable from real photographs, and we genuinely believe that Epson has pushed the boundary of inkjet quality as far as it can go. Print speed is reasonable at 5 minutes 27 seconds for a borderless A4 photo and 2 minutes 30 seconds for a 6 x 4in photo.

Text quality is less impressive, with a tendency for the ink to run slightly on plain paper, and print speed is a sluggish 2.7ppm. But for a dedicated photo printer, the RX640’s non-photo performance is adequate.

OUR VERDICT

There isn't much about the RX640 that surprises us, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Epson has once again turned out a top-quality product complete with its now trademark stunning photo output.

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