REVIEW: Epson Stylus Office BX925FWD

Quality, reliability, affordability and ease of use are prerequisites for an office printer. The choice of colour or black and white printing is a more personal decision—and one often based on budget—but the ability to streamline workflows and give small teams the power to get more out of every day with versatility, performance and ease of use often leads to a multifunction printer (MFP). The Stylus Office BX925FWD (£216 ex. VAT) is Epson’s flagship network-ready 4-in-1 duplex multifunction printer designed for demanding small businesses wanting premium inkjet output and scan quality from a single device. Let’s see if it delivers.

What is it and who is it for?

Epson is pitching the BX925FWD as a “super-fast, low-maintenance” machine that promises laser-like printing at inkjet prices. Building on the already impressive Stylus Office BX625FWD (£174.17 ex. VAT), the BX925FWD extends the feature set by offering improved usability and paper handling. A consequence is a slight increase in bulk. It also offers colour scanning, copying and faxing independently from a computer thanks to its large and intuitive touchscreen display. Both Windows and Mac compatible, the networkable (wired and wireless) BX925FWD is no slouch but it’s not the fastest printer on the block with claimed output speeds of 15ppm mono and 9.2ppm colour—or even up to 38ppm in draft mode.

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Does it do it well?

The BX925FWD (446 x 368 x 300mm, 9.8kg) is a superb looking machine manufactured to very high standards. It also offers everything you’d expect to find in an all-in-one A4 colour inkjet device built for business, including computer-independent faxing and copying. Finished in a moody black chassis with a complete absence of any buttons—controlling the unit is all done on the pull-out 8.9cm touchscreen display—the BX925FWD makes printing, copying, scanning and faxing double-sided documents in colour or black and white a snap.

Improving on the BX625FWD, the BX925FWD includes two front-loading paper trays capable of supporting a total of 500 sheets of A4 plain paper (75g/m2). A 30-page automatic document feeder is cleverly built into the scanner lid, which also supports automatic duplex printing. Unlike some units which perform duplex scans in a single pass by using a second contact image sensor (CIS) arranged within the ADF, the BX925FWD mechanically flips the paper over and re-feeds it.

The BX925FWD 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 display is bright with intuitive instructions. 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. 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 printer tight against a wall.

The BX925FWD isn’t anywhere near as fast as a colour laser printer, but it’s quicker than other models of its type. It prints at a maximum claimed speed of up to 15ppm mono and 9.2ppm colour—or even 38ppm in draft mode, but in the real world you should expect half this speed. A single 4×6-inch photo can take up to 40 seconds, but the results are worth it—image quality is superb.

Unlike the BX625FWD which took a little getting used to due to the large volume of controls and quirky menu system, the BX925FWD’s touchscreen display is intuitive. Even setting up the device is done following a quick hand-holding process. 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 desk.

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 and other visual industries.

Output, as expected for a 4-colour pigment ink printer, is excellent on plain paper. Photos aren’t as strong or bold as dye-based inks on special paper, but the BX925FWD is designed primarily for office duties. Sporting exactly the same print engine as the BX625FWD, the BX925FWD uses fast-drying Epson 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 without breaking the bank on expensive substrates.

Epson also 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 2400 x 2400dpi flatbed unit.

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Where does it disappoint?

Our biggest criticism with the BX625FWD was the sheer number of buttons on the unit—we’d have preferred touchscreen controls. Alas, the BX925FWD fixed this criticism. And although it can’t handle A3 paper like the Brother MFC-J6910DW (£299 ex. VAT), its high specification includes faxing, direct photo printing and support for wired and wireless networking. We also noticed Epson fixed the BX625FWD’s “bouncy” control panel and made sure the paper input trays are flush with the unit. These design touches give the BX925FWD a more robust feel.

Printing is never “cheap” but inkjet printing is notoriously expensive. The BX925FWD is no different to the BX625FWD as it’s based on the same engine. 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 (reducing the cost slightly to 8.1p per page). Be sure to factor in these running costs if you plan on printing lots of pages.

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Would we recommend it?

Epson’s BX925FWD is an excellent inkjet MFP for small office. 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 (Epson’s Web site is easy to navigate for software updates), 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 wanting relatively infrequent high quality prints and scans will benefit most from the BX925FWD.

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