The Epson Stylus Photo RX580 prints, scans, and copies all for much less than you'd expect!The Epson Stylus Photo RX580 adheres to minimalist philosophies, even for a home-based AIO. This isn’t to say that the RX580 doesn’t offer anything beyond the basics. For example, it prints on ink jet–printable optical discs, and it can print directly from PictBridge cameras and cell phones, memory cards, USB keys, and through its Bluetooth option. It also includes a 2.5-inch color LCD screen for previewing photos. But these are all printer-related gadgets, not AIO features, and they give the RX580 its personality as a home AIO with an emphasis on digital photography.

The emphasis on photos is natural for an AIO that uses Epson’s touted new Claria inks, which offer a wide color gamut for improved photo quality and are water and smudge resistant. Pictures printed with this ink claim a lifetime of 200 years for dark (album) storage, or 98 years framed. While it’ll be quite some time before we can check their facts on aging, the smudge and water tests have been positive: freshly printed images hold up well even when dipped under water. Still, I personally wouldn’t store my digital memories in the fishtank yet.

RX580 takes 6 seperate ink cartidges and is still an easy install!Setup is standard for an AIO that uses six ink colors with a separate cartridge for each one. Find a spot for the 7.7- by 18.2- by 13.9-inch (HWD) AIO, plug it in, turn it on, load ink and paper, connect the USB cable, and run the automated installation routine. That’s it! The RX580′s printing speed is on the sluggish side. For photos, the RX580 averaged 2:03 for each 4-by-6 print and 4:23 for each 8-by-10, compared with 51 seconds and 1:49, respectively, for the MP600.

On the other hand, with standard test settings—using the defaults as shipped for text and graphics and the highest quality for photos—the output is among the best available for ink jet–based AIOs. Every photo qualified for true photo quality, suitable for framing. Text was surprisingly good for an ink jet. Most of the standard business fonts are easily readable, with reasonably well-formed characters at 4 points. All standard fonts were easily readable at 6 points, and even the most stylized font with thick strokes was easily readable at 20 points.

The graphics of the RX580 are good enough that you shouldn’t hesitate to hand over material or brochures to a client or employer you want to impress. The RX580 even prints the kind of thin lines that most ink jet printers have a problem with. Full-page graphics on standard multipurpose test paper tended to curl slightly. To avoid this effect, you might want to spring for more expensive paper. Again, for an AIO, this is a minimalist offering. If you must have the ability to print on printable discs, the RX580 is the right choice, and you won’t be unhappy with it.

Related Links: Epson Stylus Photo RX580 Photo Printer