Anyone remember what a fax machine does? Apparently, there's one built into the Epson PX800FW, ticking the final box on a features list that leaves absolutely nothing out – printer, scanner, Wi-Fi, card reader and Ethernet connection are all present and correct.

Good engine

For a machine with so many clever abilities, you'll be pleased to know that quality hasn't been sacrificed for capability. The scanner isn’t the best we've tested, but outputs to reasonably good quality JPEGs or PDFs at the touch of a button.

The print engine, though, is absolutely stunning. In terms of photo quality, it's on a par with Canon's excellent Pixma iP4600 – which boasts smaller droplet sizes and a higher resolution print head.

By default, images have a slightly higher contrast range than on the Canon, which can obscure very fine details, but it does a better job of guessing skin tones and balancing a scene's colour first time.

Where the Epson really excels, though, is print speed. Even over Wi-Fi, it churns through photos at an unmatched rate, putting the Kodak ESP-7 to shame.

Running costs

It's also relatively economical to run. To get the best results you really do need to use Epson inks and papers, but while a tenner a go for each of the six colour tanks seems pricey, they last for absolutely ages.

Cost comparisons get a bit strange when it comes to paper, mind – you can pick up 50 sheets of 6x4 for a very reasonable £7, but A4 pages cost almost a pound a pop. Ouch.

Softening that blow is the fact that not only is the bundled photo preparation software excellent, but the on-screen menus are simple, straightforward and powered by one of the best touchscreens we've seen on a home printer.


Best of all, though, is the silent hinge, which slowly retracts the front panel with a sci-fi swing when you're done.

Design flaws

There are just two places that Epson has slipped up; odd occurrences where a designer took their eye off the ball. The first is the paper cartridge – it slips in and out of the bottom of the unit smoothly, but it's stupidly easy to push the A4 pages too far into the loading mechanism, which leads to an instant paper jam when you hit start.

Something is awry when hard copies are returned too. For a start, the flimsy catcher tray feels like it's going to break if you look at it too hard, but worse, it's simply not big enough for an A4 print. At over £1 a time, it's not just annoying when an enlarged shot get caught on the preceding one and smudges the last few lines of ink, it's expensive too.

If you follow the caveat to be careful, though, there's little not to like about the PX800FW. Whether you're a serious snapper who treats prints with pride or just want a utility machine for the whole household to use, there's no reason not to buy it. You'll even get a fax machine thrown in for free.


Stuff says... 

Epson PX800FW review

Minor issues with paper trays can't detract from an otherwise excellent all-in-one