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By Hanleigh Daniels 2 July 2012

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Printers and all-in-ones (AIOs) may be near the bottom of the tech desirability list thanks to smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, but these devices still perform a vital function for users, enabling them to print, scan and copy documents as well as photos.

Epson’s latest cost-effective printing solution, the Stylus SX445W, aims to provide home and small office users with scanning and copying facilities, the flexibility of Wi-Fi connectivity as well as PC-free printing, and smart-navigation touch-panel technology.

Design

Epson may classify this AIO as part of its small-in-one range, which is apparently 39% smaller than the company’s previous models, but the square frame of the SX445W doesn’t enable it to consume any less desk real estate. It measures 390 x 300 x 145 mm and weighs in at a chubby 4.2 kg.  

The designers of this all black printer seem to have clearly prioritised form and function over eye-catching aesthetics, adopting an old school rectangular plastic look, with the most modern part of the design being the printer’s 6.3 cm smart-navigation touch-panel. This panel enables you to access the printer’s functions and change its settings, which include its Wi-Fi capabilities. The latter enables users to share this printer over the work or home office network.  

Besides the tiltable touch panel, you can also find a memory card reader at the printer’s front. This is able to read a large variety of different cards including memory stick, memory stick duo, as well as memory stick PRO, and SD, SDHC, along with SDXC cards. When used in conjunction with the smart panel, the card slot also enables pc-free printing, since users are able to view their photos on the colour screen of the smart panel and then print them without having to switch on their PC.

Printing quality and speed


The Stylus SX445W offers a highly useful and impressive print resolution of up to 5760 x 1400 optimised dpi, on a variety of printing media, that includes A4 paper and 10 x 15 cm photo paper. Photo printouts look excellent, with colour as well as black and white printouts also being of a high standard.   

Even with this very handy printing quality, the printing speed is still good at a claimed speed of up to 33 ppm for black and white A4 documents and up to 15 ppm for colour A4 documents. That’s what the manufacturer claims the machine can deliver. However, we found that in reality the printing speed only comes close to that at the fastest settings, but the printer delivers speeds closer to 25 B&W ppm and 11 colour ppm at standard quality.

In terms of photo prints the SX445W printed high-res photos onto 10 x 15 cm photo paper at around one minute and five seconds at the highest quality, which is on the slow side, but the printing quality does make up for the sluggish speed.  

You can load the paper tray at the back of the unit with 100 A4 pages, which should be sufficient for the needs of most home users, but is rather limiting for small office use.    

Scanning functionality

Epson delivers an impressive scanning resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi, courtesy of the CIS A4 flatbed colour image scanner of the SX445W printer. You are able to scan documents at a very legible 300 dpi and high-res photos at a delectable 600 dpi.

Scan jobs can be saved as PDF documents, which is handy for email purposes. Alternatively, users can store these in JPEG format, which is useful if you want to crop and edit these at a later stage by using GIMP or Adobe Photoshop.  

Final word

Epson’s Stylus SX445W may not have killer printer looks or printing speed, but it does deliver an exceptional printing quality and noteworthy scanning quality. This AIO goes for a recommended retail price of R 1190 (incl. VAT).

Pros:

Excellent print quality; great scanning quality; cards reader reads multitude of cards formats; smart touch panel; and PC-free printing functionality.    

Cons:

Not the most eye-catching design; simple square frame consumes more desk real estate and automatic double-sided printing not offered.

PROS
Excellent print quality; great scanning quality; cards reader reads multitude of card formats; smart touch panel and PC-free printing functionality.
CONS
Not the most eye-catching design; simple square frame consumes more desk real estate and automatic double-sided printing not offered.
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