Epson Stylus CX7800
At a Glance
The Epson Stylus CX7800 is a great inkjet multifunction printer (MFP) for desktop publishers, graphic designers, and photographers. Reasonably priced, it captures images from paper, film, and digital cameras, and prints high-quality photos.
A light in the scanner's lid works with the included film holder to let you scan slides and negatives. The unit's three media slots read all the major digital camera memory card formats, and the USB 2.0 port allows for speedy transfers. Alternatively, you can connect a PictBridge-compatible camera to the direct-print port on the front. Unlike most of Epson's photo printers, the CX7800 doesn't let you attach a USB flash drive or other storage device to the direct-print port.
If you've previewed and edited images on larger LCDs, such as those provided by some of the Epson's competitors, the CX7800's tiny 1.5-inch color monitor will seem decidedly outmoded. This is disappointing given that the front panel looks as if Epson designed it to accommodate a bigger screen. Still, the unit's layout remains functional and attractive.
Epson claims the CX7800's four pigment-based inks resist fading better than their dye-based equivalents. In our tests, the printer lacked the plain-paper precision we saw from the best of its rivals. Text had fuzzy edges, and fine horizontal banding appeared in many of the characters, especially in larger font sizes. Line art seemed a little gray, while poorly positioned parallel lines produced stripy patterns not present in the original. Photos printed on plain paper looked dull, with grayish facial tones and little shadow detail; but when we switched to photo paper, the printer shined, achieving bright, sharp results.
The only faults were colors that lacked the accuracy of some rivals' and a few blown-out highlights in areas such as brightly lit faces.
When timed in the PC World Test Center using the printer's default settings, both text and graphics printed extremely slowly: 1.7 pages per minute and 1.4 ppm respectively. However, this poor performance can be attributed to the fact that Epson has emphasized the CX7800's photo printing capabilities by defaulting its drivers to photo mode. When we performed informal tests with the driver set for more everyday documents, we saw some improvement, but the CX7800 still lagged behind the other inkjet MFPs we tested. Our test photo printed in a much more competitive 69 seconds when printed on letter-size glossy paper using the photo settings recommended by Epson.
When it comes to scanning, the CX7800 is a star. Its high-quality images impressed our panel of judges, especially the challenging scan of a tiny 2-by-2-inch composite photo. The unit is fast, too--it scanned our 4-by-5-inch photo at 100 dots per inch in just 6 seconds (not including the preview).
On the downside, the CX7800's weak document-handling features make it unsuitable for office use. Also, the single paper tray accommodates just 100 sheets of plain paper, and the output tray holds only30 sheets. Epson provides no built-in fax machine and no OCR software. In addition, its lack of an automatic document feeder and a duplexerwould make copying large documents frequently a real chore; but even aside from that, the CX7800's slow printing and poor plain-paper quality mean it's a particularly bad candidate as a copier.
The Epson Stylus CX7800 is poorly suited for office tasks, but it's an expert at capturing and printing photographic images.