Hugh John checks out the new SX535WD all-in-one that comes with an impressive price tag
epson sx535wdEpson’s reputation as a printer manufacturer was founded on quality; build quality and print quality. You might pay more for their printers – and significantly more for their cartridges – but when you compared the quality of Epson prints with those from other printers, well, the extra dosh was worth it.

Times change. In education, schools are cutting back on printing not just because of the huge cost of paper and cartridges but because images are increasingly being viewed on high-quality televisions, monitors and, more recently, tablets where Apple’s new iPad with retina display is setting the standard.

You can still get superb quality high-end printers, and still expect to pay top dollar, but Epson, like many other printer manufacturers, has realised that there’s a growing demand for multi-functional machines that offer good quality printing at reasonable prices. Say hello to the SX535WD three-in-one double-sided printer, yours for little more than £65.

The SX535WD has a memory card slot for PC-free printing

Tricked out in natty black livery, the SX535WD is a compact (445x367x169mm), four-cartridge unit, designed to have as small a ‘footprint’ as possible, its boxy appearance softened by rounded-off front corners, one of which accommodates a memory-card slot for PC-free printing. The operating buttons are set into a hinged front unit which also houses the central display and control unit, approximately 2 inches (6cm) by 1.5 inches (3cm). Future models, one suspects, will have touch-screens.

The Epson software is easy enough to install, even opting for the more complicated Wi-Fi network set-up. My review model recognised the house router instantly and after that, once I’d inputted the WEP key using the keypad on the front of the printer it was plain sailing. It’s also possible, via free apps available for Android and Apple devices, to print directly from phones and tablets.

So what’s the catch? At this price surely something has to give? Well, not really. True, the chassis, lid and paper tray are just the right side of flimsy and lack a certain heft. Likewise, colour printing is not entirely convincing. At anything other than the highest resolution some banding is discernible. Scanning, using Epson’s proprietary scanning software was absolutely fine with a decent resolution of 2,400 X 400dpi (dots per inch) It’s not especially fast but the scans, especially in "Professional" mode, are convincing. Similarly, the photocopier proved capable of producing adequate copies.

None of these very minor quibbles, however, should discourage potential buyers. In this price range this printer represents terrific value for money. What you get is a printer/scanner/copier that works perfectly well and has the bonus of Wi-Fi connectivity. That's quite an advantage in that it minimizes direct physical contact with the unit because workhorse printer the SX535WD is not, nor would Epson claim it to be.

It’s the sort of versatile three-in-one that could thrive in a classroom not served by a clamped-down school printing policy, one where students and teachers log in for occasional printing, scanning and copying jobs while relying on a network printer for more demanding print runs. But it's even more appealing to a teacher for home use, truly useful for a wide range of tasks without breaing the bank. Well worth considering.

Ratings (out of 5)

Fitness for purpose    5
Ease of use                5
?Features                  5
Quality                       4
Value for money        5

Epson SX535WD

Multi-function device – ink-jet printer, scanner and photocopier, around £70
Epson UK 
Amazon price £68