All-in-One from Epson 

One way to save on workspace is to combine your scanner, copier and printer into a single device. Take, for example, the Epson DX3800.
Epson DX3800 Multi-function printer

Whether you call it a multi-function or all-in-one device, as in the case of Epson, you get the ability to print, copy and scan from a single piece of kit. The four-colour Epson DX3800 falls into the all-in-one category. This product is aimed at the home user with lower volume printing requirements who is looking for a cost effective solution.

Tastefully coloured in two-tone grey, the unit measures 42 x 34 x 17.6cm (W x D x H) with the depth increasing to 46.5cm when both paper input and output trays are extended. The power and USB connections are situated at the rear of the unit. A series of control buttons are positioned along the left hand side of the top of the device.

Once the four ink cartridges have been inserted into the clearly marked slots of the ink container, you can start installing the supplied software. As I have noted before, Epson are fairly generous when it comes to providing software for its products. Including the drivers for scanning and printing, there are 11 different modules making up the software package supplied with the DX3800. While the drivers, user guide and Epson EasyPrint module are installed by default, you can cherry-pick from items that include PIF Designer, Web-To-Page, Easy Photo Print, Print Image Framer, Create Suite and Copy Utility. During the initially part of the software installation you will be advised when to connect the unit via USB to the computer.

Epson provides utilities to carry out scan and copy operations although you could perform both these tasks with other applications with very little difference in regards to time and quality. For example using the Epson Copy utility, which scans and prints a document, took 4 minutes 27 seconds to produce an A4 copy. By using Paint Shop Pro to first scan and then print the document, took three seconds longer.

There was a similar discrepancy when just scanning a document. However this time Paint Shop Pro proved to be faster. This was unexpected as both procedures used exactly the same TWAIN interface to achieve the finished task.

When looking solely at printing speeds and quality, the DX3800 was fed a series of documents and images. Printing a 231-word document look 9 seconds in draft mode (the resulting document was only really suitable for checking for mistakes) and 28 seconds in text mode. The latter produced a document of a quality that was good enough to send to others.

A full colour image (240 x 135mm) took 3 minutes 9 seconds in Photo quality mode and 4 minutes 47 seconds in Best quality. Any discernable difference between these two modes would only be noticeable if premium glossy paper was being used. As a final speed test, and also to check for borderless A4 prints, I printed out a full colour A4 image. This took 12 minutes 25 seconds (not really excessive if you want best quality) but I was still left with a border.

Apart from the draft print mode, I was impressed with the print quality achieved by this £69 all-in-one product. Possible this was due to the Epson DURABrite Ultra? ink that is used by the printer. This ink comes with the claim of producing good results using a wide range of paper types and qualities while its unique resin coating provides for durability, water-resistance and smudge-resistance. I have no arguments with this claim. Each ink cartridge has been priced at £6.60.

Overall the Epson DX3800 is ideally suited to the home user looking for good results at a reasonable price. It looks like Epson have another success on its hands.

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