Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD
The Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD is a compact multi-function unit which uses six dye-based ink cartridges: Cyan, Yellow, Light Cyan, Black, Magenta and Light Magenta. The printer features a CD/DVD label printing tray, scanner, a memory card slot, PictBridge printing, wireless printing, USB and Ethernet ports. The PX720WD also offers duplex printing (printing on both sides of media). Though for photo printing, this is of little consequence.
Getting the PX720WD set up is simple enough, just fit the inks in the front compartment and the printer primes itself. Software installation and port configuration is all taken care of by an automatic wizard.
The PX720WD's LCD screen is located on a swivelling front facia, allowing you to view the smart-navigation touch-panel controls at a convenient angle. The buttons are touch-sensitive and respond almost instantly. The 2.5" (6.3 cm) LCD is adequate for menu control, although for viewing preview photos it would benefit from a higher-resolution screen.
Media loading is via a tray located at front of the unit. The tray can accommodate both A4/Letter size and 6x4 photo media. Loading media is not one of the printer’s strong points: the top photo tray just seemed to get in the way when loading A4, and when loading 6x4 media you have to carefully ensure it slips under the guide. Photo media has to be placed face downwards, which means the media has to do a U-bend before printing, limiting the media thickness that can be used.
As well as conventional photographs, the PX720WD can also print CD/DVD labels. A handy Epson Print CD application is included on the installation disk.
Simply press the CD tray button and the printer resets the heads at a raised position and then ejects the CD/DVD tray for the insertion of printable media. Access to the tray is awkward: you have to raise the navigation panel and then load the disk. The disk fits onto a raised center post, then you just press the CD tray button to retract the tray back into the printer. A word of caution: make sure the disk fits tightly onto the post, I had a disk that came off during the printing process.
The memory card reader and PictBridge port are conveniently located on the bottom right hand side. A wide variety of popular card types are supported for direct printing, the reader can also be used for transferring images to a computer.
Using Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper, our A4 borderless test print took 1 minute 8 seconds to print, the fastest time of any printer in this group test.
Skin tones on Sophie look good, just a fraction darker than the original. The B/W picture is free from color casts - an excellent performance for a printer that doesn't use a dedicated gray or light black ink. Generally gray tones are made up by using a combination of ink colors. However, the shadow area under the far arch has blocked up: in the original file there is a door visible in the deep shadow which has been lost in the print. The RGB CMY BGW patches display pleasing colors although maybe not as vibrant as the Canon print. The color gradients are very smooth from solid color to white.
The cotton reels display well saturated vibrant colors, although the black reel has lost some of the finer detail in the strands. The red and yellow reels are particularly impressive.
Text printing performance is good although slightly 'heavier' than the other two printers in this test. The rendition of white text on black is disappointing though, with many of the characters merging into the black ink abyss.
That being said, our three 'pictorial' pictures (which obviously represent more 'normal' target files) each display a good photo quality which will satisfy most users.