This cutely named "small-in-one" printer might be just the ticket for folks with limited space and who don't want to keep moving around a heavy printer--dorm rooms seem a natural spot for one. With more options than a printer that's way under $100 should have, including wireless
, a copier, and a scanner, it's hard to come up with any significant down side, except that prints are as exceptional as with some other, higher end printers; and that it's not the fastest (or the most quiet) kid on the block. If that doesn't matter much to you (and it's hard to imagine how important those things would be to college students or infrequent home users), then you'll find a good value with the Epson Stylus NX430.
In terms of the NX430's speed, well, let's just say don't wait till just before class to start printing that term paper, because you won't make it in time. Printing wirelessly, the best the printer could do was get the first page of a Word document out in 15 seconds--not that bad, particularly for the price. Subsequent pages somehow took a bit longer (around 20 seconds) each.
Things got worse when printing a graphics-heavy PDF document. That first page took nearly half a minute to come out, and the full job took 2:16 for only four pages (this was printed in the default mode).
Printing photos? If you use Epson's "Best Photo" option, might as well head out for a coffee, since a 4x6 photo will take nearly four minutes of your life to print. On the bright side, printing at other speeds shaved nearly two minutes off that time, with little quality degradation (see below).
Let's start with photo quality. As mentioned above, I couldn't ascertain much difference between photos printed at high and regular quality. That's a good thing, not a bad thing, since the overall quality of the photographs was very good (when using the right, decent quality, photo paper
). I thought there was decent contrast and a nice depth to the colors; and since the NX430 uses four inkjet cartridges, there's no reason that even their cheapest printer shouldn't look pretty decent. But forget about printing at Best Photo quality unless you're entering a competition, in which case you might want to use another printer anyway.
Colors on graphic-heavy documents were not as stellar. Bright yellows in particular were muted and more reserved than I expected, and many shades of greens and blues tended to blur together. However, even those colorful pages didn't get limp or sopping wet from the ink.
Black text was sharp and clear, especially at font sizes over eight points. Below that the sharpness seemed to drop off a bit. Since normal documents are printed at 10 or 12 points, though, this is probably not going to be a major concern for average users.
Bells and Whistles
There's no USB slot on the NX430, though there is a slot up front for SD cards. That might end up being a pain for some users. Photos can be printed directly from the SD cards. The NX430 takes advantage of Epson Connect, which makes printing from the cloud easier. Mobile devices can send an attachment to an enabled Epson printer such as this one and print it out. Put Epson's iPrint app on a smartphone and you'll be able to connect to a Wi-Fi printer such as this one and print whatever you like.
The printer has built-in Wi-Fi networking though not a built-in duplexer (however, you can print duplex by manually flipping the pages). There's no automatic document feeder; there is a flatbed for copying and scanning pages.
The printer comes with software that makes scanning an easier process than it sometimes is. The printer, Epson says, can correct digital photos automatically "better than the competition." That's very much up to the user to decide; sometimes I'm happy with the end result, and sometimes the original is better. Photos can be seen on the printer's 2.5-inch color LCD, which is located on a tilting panel with buttons that function like a touchscreen.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy