It's a rarity to come across a printer that has such a strong design aesthetic as the TX700. Coming from the same design house that gave us Pinocchio washing lines and mouse-shaped objets d'art, the Castiglione Morelli drafted printer is definitely a little different from the rest of the pack.
Sporting a piano black finish on the upper half, and a matte black plastic base, the TX700 also houses a control panel at the front which pops out from the body and tilts up and down. Backlit buttons and the vivid 2.5-inch colour LCD screen are equally as sexy as their surrounds. A standard array of SD/Memory Stick/xD/Compact Flash slots sit at the bottom right, completing the rest of the specs.
Its rather cumbersome size is the one disadvantage to all the clean lines — the TX700 seems to spread out rather than up, making its footprint a rather large 44cm across by 38cm deep.
With support for CD and DVD printing, plus wireless and Ethernet connectivity, the TX700 is positioning itself as a do-it-all unit. Certainly, it's a multifunction in the sense that it can print, scan and copy, but the addition of these other extras have the potential to position it as a leading printer in its class.
The double paper trays (for smaller 10x15cm prints on top and A4/Legal on the bottom) are positioned at the front of the device, though they feel rather flimsy because of their thin construction. This is a bit of a letdown compared to the build quality of the rest of the printer. The optional duplexer, which can be attached to the back of the unit, is a separate purchase.
Using Epson's proprietary Claria ink tanks, the TX700 has six dedicated colours that need replacing. More on this later.
Epson claimed some incredibly fast print speeds for this machine — like 10 seconds for a 10x15cm photo print, so naturally we put our sceptic's hat on and put it to the test.
The set-up process was relatively straightforward, though the bundled software was a little confusing to use at first. Documentation for installation is kept to a minimum; however, there is a substantial brochure provided, which will step you through the process of using the printer as a stand-alone unit.
We particularly enjoyed how there were snap-to-print levers in the paper trays, with common paper sizes marked on them ready to line up your pages properly. Unfortunately, the novelty soon wore off when we observed the flimsiness of the paper trays themselves. We even found that our unit came with paper lodged at the back from the pages (and tray) being inserted incorrectly.
For our first test, we printed a number of 10x15cm photos directly from the printer onto Epson's Ultra Glossy Photo Paper, and were astounded by the speeds this printer could achieve. The longest we waited for a print was 29 seconds — incredibly impressive. Even so, the time did fall fairly shy from Epson's stated specifications for a 10-second printout.
In terms of photo quality, the TX700 was able to produce some very high quality printouts. Even the smallest details appeared crisp and tack sharp, colours were even and not oversaturated, and blacks were very deep. Compared to printouts from one of the other multifunctions we tested recently, the HP Photosmart C6380, the TX700 produced slightly flatter shots. The colours from the Epson were not as punchy, but there was a greater tonal range in our printouts due to the extra colour tanks (this unit has six and the HP only has four ink tanks).
For our next test, we performed a scan of a 10x15cm print that we had produced earlier. The TX700 produced an image in an astounding 11 seconds, but while it was incredibly quick, the resulting scan was only just passable, but not ideal — colours looked a little washed out and the image was certainly not of a high enough standard to make another print from.
Black and white text printouts were incredibly speedy once the data had been sent to the printer — from final click to first page dropping on the tray, the Epson managed a respectable 34 seconds. The rest of the pages almost flew out, averaging around five seconds each. Full A4 colour prints took a lot longer though — we timed our test shot at three minutes seven seconds for a borderless print on heavyweight paper.
Unfortunately, navigating through the photo prints from a memory card was a little cumbersome — there is no quick way to skip to the photo that you want, though there is the option to print a proof sheet or index sheet of images.
Cartridges and warranty
As the TX700 uses six separate colour cartridges, the cost to replace the entire lot in one go is quite expensive. At the time of writing, we found the prices for these cartridges to be around AU$22 each on average (though they retail around AU$25-$26), which makes the total cost of replacing all six an exorbitant AU$132. Considering the speed at which you're likely to use up the ink, this cost of ownership is the big deal breaker for the Epson. Add into this equation the additional cost of branded photo paper and running costs suddenly skyrocket.