REVIEW: Epson Stylus Office BX625FWD

The predictions that 2009 was going to be a bad 12 months for printer and multifunction printer (MFP) shipments proved to be correct as sales across EMEA fell by almost a fifth. Although other industry sectors are returning to seasonal growth, the printer hardware market looks set to continue struggling. The printer, copier and MFP market is competing for scarce disposable income, coupled with a relatively low demand from businesses and consumers to replace existing devices. Does Epson’s latest MFP offer anything new to temp businesses?

What is it and who is it for?

The Stylus Office BX625FWD (£174.17 ex. VAT) offers pretty much everything you’d expect to find in an all-in-one A4 colour inkjet device built for business. Exquisitely manufactured and finished in a moody black chassis with a few brightly-coloured buttons, the BX625FWD (446x360x221mm, 7.6kg) prints, copies, scans and faxes double-sided documents in colour and has a relatively high-capacity (at least for an inkjet) front-loading paper tray along with automatic document feeder. Similar to any device worthy of a place in your business, it’s also 10/100 Ethernet-ready.

The BX625FWD has been designed to make small-office printing more straightforward—and it succeeds. It’s relatively fast, offers double-sided printing for saving costs, and the integrated 6.3cm display lets you create copies and fax without PC connectivity. In addition, built-in Wi-Fi means you and your colleagues can print, scan and fax from any 802.11b/g/n-enabled device anywhere in the office. Don’t worry, there’s still a regular USB 2.0 port for individual users.

Does it do it well?

The BX625FWD is a solid MFP that makes light work of most tasks thrown at it. Build quality is top of the class and the device looks fantastic. A neat design touch is that the mains power cord, which attaches at the rear of the printer, has a right-angled socket so you can push the BX625FWD tight against a wall.

The unit is no slouch either, printing at a maximum speed of up to 15ppm in black and 7.1ppm in colour. In the real world you should expect half this speed, so unless you’re really pressed for time the BX625FWD should suffice. Scanning, copying and faxing are made intuitive thanks to the double-sided Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) with a 30-page capacity and a front-loading 250-sheet paper tray, while automatic double-sided printing keeps down paper wastage.

Operating the BX625FWD takes a little getting used to due to the large volume of controls and quirky menu system. But after a little time the control panel comes in handy for scanning documents to PDF or e-mail attachments. A neat touch is the way the control panel flips out and up for easier access. This is most beneficial when the printer is placed on the floor or any place lower than your working surface.

Two memory card reader slots on the front of the printer support xD, CF, MS, SD and MMC, and the PictBridge port allows printing images from a memory card in a digital camera directly to the printer, regardless of brand—a useful feature for those working in real estate, insurance, construction etc.

Output, as expected for a 4-colour Epson printer, is outstanding. Fast-drying DURABrite Ultra inks help to ensure crisp text and vibrant colours, but more importantly is their resistance to water, smudging, fading and highlighter pens. Documents, graphs, maps, presentations and charts are produced in high quality. Epson offers a choice of cartridges to meet your printing needs, including XL inks for higher volume, lower-cost, colour printing.

Replacing the individual ink cartridges is a simple matter of lifting the scanner bed, turning on the power and then snapping the four cartridges into the carriage. Scan quality is also excellent from the 1,200dpi flatbed unit.

Where does it disappoint?

The biggest criticism with the BX625FWD is the sheer number of buttons on the unit—we’d have preferred touchscreen controls. The menu system also takes some getting used and can be frustrating. Epson has also cut costs with the buttons themselves, which have a low-cost plastic feel and are noisy when pressed. Considering the BX625FWD is destined for busy offices, Epson should have used rubberised buttons which are silent when pressed.

The control panel “bounces” up and down when used in the flip-out position, too, so a light-handed approach is recommended. Space saved by the clever power connector is wasted by the paper output tray which sticks out from the front of the printer. The tray is also a touch too flimsy for our liking.

Printing is never “cheap” but inkjet printing is notoriously expensive. The BX625FWD is no different. A replacement set of four colour cartridges costs around £40 (ex. VAT) and should be good for around 470 pages (roughly 9.6p per page). A set of long-life cartridges, however, costs £55 (ex. VAT) and lasts for around 755 pages (reduces the cost slightly to 8.1p per page). Be sure to factor in these running costs if you plan on printing lots of pages on a regular basis.

Would we recommend it?

Epson’s BX625FWD is an excellent inkjet MFP for small-business users. Its build quality is above par, print and scan quality are superb, and operating noise is kept to a minimum. The unit looks great, is well supported, and the drivers (Windows and OS X) and bundled proactivity apps are intuitive. The inclusion of memory card slots and a PictBridge port increase its versatility and the choice of wired and wireless connectivity is ideal for hot-deskers. The only consideration is running costs. If you’re a very busy office that primarily prints documents for internal purposes, a laser printer is more cost effective over the long term. Small teams or those in home offices who print less frequently will benefit most from the BX625FWD.