Most monochrome inkjet printers offer some brilliantly efficient cost per page, along with good quality and fast printing. Epson recently announced its K300 and this particular printer aims at further lowering your printing costs. But, does it manage to do so without compromising on quality and speed? Let’s find out.
The control panel
Design and Build Quality
The Epson K300 comes in a white and grey outfit and looks pretty inconspicuous. It’s got a lot of flaps and panels and is predominantly made of plastic, so you might have to be a little careful while handling it. The control panel is located at the front and can be swivelled up in case the printer is lower than your eye level. The document feeder is located towards the bottom, while the output tray is located right above it. The scanner and copier functions are located at the top.
Coming back to the control panel, all copy, scan and delete functions are located on the panel itself, but there’s no text supporting each button, so you might have to glance at the manual to get a hang of each button and its function. The Ethernet port and power slot are located towards the back. Overall, the printer doesn’t have a massive footprint and though the design isn’t pretty impressive, one would agree to the fact that you don’t buy a printer for its looks. Over to the features and performance.
The Epson K300 is a monochrome Inkjet printer that utilizes Epson's new DURABrite Ultra Inks. It has a maximum print resolution of 1440 x 720 dpi. Print speeds clock unto 37 papers per minute for texts prints on A4 sheets. For copying speeds, the company states a 4 second first copy out speed, which we have put to further test in the performance section. Obviously, that time doesn't include the warm up time for the printer. Scanning has a maximum optical resolution of 1200 dpi with lower resolutions of 600 dpi and 300 dpi also available. Both Flatbed and Automatic document feeder scanning types are available.
In terms of speed, Epson mentions a monochrome 1200 dpi speed of approx 8.8msec/line and a cool 1200 dpi speed of approx. 25.4 msec/line. Connectivity options, include USB and Ethernet, so network printing is possible. Wireless printing would have been a welcome option, though. The printer has an input paper handling capacity of 150 sheets and an output paper handling capacity of 50 sheets. On paper, the K300 seems to be able to do it all, but it's the performance section that will tell us the real story.
First up, we have gauged the speed and quality of the printer. The K300 has three modes of printing – fine, normal and fast economy. Our first test printout, one with text filling up the entire sheet, took a cool 7 seconds in fast economy mode, 8 seconds in normal and 35 seconds in fine print mode. An A4 sheet with different font sizes took 5 seconds to print in fast economy, whereas it took 6 seconds to print in normal and a full 26 seconds to print in fine mode.
A batch of 10 sheets took a superfast 32 seconds to print in an economy mode, with an average of close to 3 seconds per page, which was definitely impressive. Naturally, the normal mode gave us more finished prints with a respectable quality and were completed in an equally awesome 41 seconds – bringing the average to close to 4 seconds per page. Network printing was quick as well, slotting in at a good 13 seconds for a full text printout. The scanner took 28 seconds for scanning a page with image and text.
While this printer isn’t best suited for image printing, we did try a few images in all three modes. Images got printed in a super fast 8 seconds in fast economy mode and a close 9 seconds in normal mode, with fine printouts taking 41 seconds. However, only printouts in the fine mode are worth mentioning, as the others simply had too many horizontal lines. In fast economy, ink levels get greatly reduced and the quality goes for an absolute toss. At best, this mode should be reserved for creating drafts and not final copies.
Value for money
In terms of quality, the normal and fine print modes don't differ too much when seen with the naked eye, with similar ink usage and colour density levels. But, there are fine visible lines on the text in the normal mode. Eco-mode completely messes up printouts in terms of quality, fonts look quite warped, distance between fonts vary enough to be noticed. Sharpness issues were observed as well. For certain sheets, even fine text printed in the normal mode would have readability issues. We also noticed fine blotting and minute ink spreading when viewing the prints for normal and fine mode under a magnifying glass. However, that’s nothing that would affect readability.
For scanned images, colours looked a lot paler than they would on other scanners and detailing wasn’t impressive, either. Saturation levels were also low and the K300 would get a maximum of six on ten for scanning. In a nutshell, for quality there’s fine mode and for speed there’s normal mode. Fast economy shouldn’t be used, unless you are extremely short on ink for your printer.
The cartridges cost Rs.1,200 and have a yield of 2000 pages, bringing it close to Rs.0.60 per printout. That is definitely a good deal for those wanting a low maintenance printer with little overheads, making it a value for money buy.
Worth a buy?
The Epson K300 is priced at Rs.11,599 (MRP). Monochrome inkjets haven’t been as dominant in the past for office printing and Laser printers have been widely preferred for efficient printing. While, we have seen better in terms of quality, this product offers good value for money. If you’re sticking to printing documents, then the Epson K300 won’t disappoint you. If the initial cost price itself of this inkjet might intimidate you, we'll remind you that the Samsung ML-2951ND monochrome laser printer is just about a grand more expensive than this one.
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Oct 24, 2016