For the small or home office environment, a multifunction device makes good sense where space is at a premium, and printing, copying and scanning tasks are undertaken regularly. Fitting the bill is Epson’s Stylus CX5100, an inkjet-based MFD that can provide stellar photo-quality printouts and high-res scans (1200x2400dpi) and photocopies.
It features a straight paper path and a flatbed scanner (which doubles as the photocopier), and can be connected to a PC via a USB port. The printer utilises four independent ink cartridges — black, cyan, magenta and yellow — so all the colours do not have to go to waste when only one of them is completely exhausted. These cartridges will set you back around $70 for a black cartridge and $31 for each other colour.
As you can infer, it is quite a zippy machine and it is easy to use, too. The control panel is well labelled and the scrolling text on the small LCD screen informs you of the machine’s settings and provides alerts. The printer driver interface and the Twain driver are both well laid out and easy to use.If your home or small office requirements aren’t quite that high, the lower specced CX3100 could be more suitable. Physically the differences between the two printers are insignificant and they could easily be mistaken for one another. In terms of features, they are again fairly close with the main differences being the resolution and printing speeds. Offering scanning at half the resolution of the CX5100 (600x1200 dpi) and a top print speed of 14 pages per minute (A4 black text on economy setting), the CX3100 can still hold its own in the multifunction device market without setting the world on fire. Consumables are similarly priced but not interchangeable between the two models. Black cartridges cost $64 while the colour cartridge (the CX3100 will not take separate colour cartridges) costs $57.
(More multifunction devices reviewed in Copy Shop in a Box).