When we reviewed the C63, we commented about how Epson still styled most of its printers circa as early 2002. You shouldn't be surprised to find the Stylus C65 no different. While there are slight deviations to its older brother in terms of button design and size, the C65 still clads itself with the same curvy cutting and grey-and-black ensemble.
In the tech world where miniaturisation is a sign of progress, Epson strangely hasn't conformed to that idea. The C65 measures 460 x 243 x 193mm when packed and hits the scales at 4.4kg. We didn't mind the 1cm increase in length much, but found the extra 500g heft strange. In any case, the C65 remains easy to hide or tuck away when desktop space is constrained.
Like most consumer-oriented inkjets, setting up the C65 is straightforward. Run the drivers installation CD, connect the printer to the PC--through either a USB or parallel cable--and you're well on your way. Like its predecessor, a USB cable is not bundled with the unit. However, the inkjet sports the legacy parallel port, so you won't have to interrupt your installation workflow when you find out you are missing the USB cable.
Perhaps recognising that patronage for the Mac OS hasn't been spectacular (estimated by IDC to be between 2 and 3 percent of the worldwide market), the Japanese firm has dropped its rudimentary support for the Apple OS, concentrating instead on software for Windows-powered machines. The manufacturer does catch onto other trends with the new Epson PhotoQuicker software sporting a mobile phone print mode to address the burgeoning camera-phone space.
Like the C63, the C65 produced respectable scores in our speed tests when run in draft mode. In "normal" print quality, the unit bordered between slow and average. In any case, this Stylus finished our 10-page test in 76 seconds or a meager 3 seconds faster than the C63. Still, this puts the unit ahead of older midrange dedicated photo printers such as Canon's i470D and i475D. However, with new inkjets expected from the likes of Canon and HP in September, the C65 may find itself fighting an uphill battle.
In terms of photo output, the C65 produces "borderless" or "border-free" photos of 4R size only. Even so, its A4-size image output benches trail the Canon units (which print borderless A4 pictures), clocking 12 minutes for best-quality mode and 5.5 minutes in the photo-quality setting--no improvement over the older C63.
With regard to quality, the results in our tests proved reasonably good. Although the text at 2pt font size came out a little blotchy, it was still legible. For photos, outputs turned out great with little dithering and banding visible when set to best-quality mode. However, the photo-quality setting produced images with visible banding and a lack of detail. We reckon the photo-quality setting made the printheads write half as many passes when compared with the best-quality mode, resulting in significant speed improvements at the obvious expense of quality.
Like its older brethren, the C65's consumables work out rather affordably, especially considering Epson's claim of fade resistance up to 80 years. The black ink cartridge costs AU$20.79 with a manufacturer-rated yield of 540 pages, while each of the colour cartridges costs AU$13.20 and is rated for 250 pages. This works out to just under 4 cents per monochrome and about 5.3 cents per colour output. This makes the colour prints here even cheaper than most competing systems including the decent-performing i475D.
Further value can be derived from the cost of the DURABrite media. 4R sheets are sold in packs of 50 for AU$15.40, while A4 media costs AU$26.40 for 20 sheets. Perhaps the only downside to these affordable photo papers is that they aren't very glossy which may make it less appealing to some.
In all, we were comforted by the C65's reasonable print quality and strong value ratings. However, issues with its lackluster speed remain and the Japanese vendor's lack of support for Mac OS makes this Stylus a hard recommendation. Still, if you don't mind the longer print-time in exchange for affordable, gorgeous photo outputs that last or you feel the introductory mobile phone print mode a godsend, this Stylus can go on your list of considerations. Else, we'd wait out for the next generation of inkjets.