This printer lets you mix-n-match cartridges

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HELPING HOME USER: Epson’s Stylus CX5500 printer-scanner-copier takes different sizes of ink cartridges.
HELPING HOME USER: Epson’s Stylus CX5500 printer-scanner-copier takes different sizes of ink cartridges.

Anand Parthasarathy

Epson’s budget multi-function machine offers flexible ink well sizes

Bangalore: You buy an inkjet colour printer — and end up printing economically, in monochrome most of the time. On the rare occasion when you want to go ‘technicolour,’ you find the colour cartridge has gone dry, due to disuse.

This common frustration of cost-conscious printer users — which means most of us — has been addressed by the Japan-based Epson, in its latest offering for the Indian market.

The Stylus CX5500, is an entry-level printer-copier-scanner, what is known as a multi-function machine, that comes with separate cartridges for the three colours — cyan, magenta and yellow — and a fourth for the black. This is a feature that printer-makers usually offer in the costlier models — but Epson has led the trend to make it available in budget printers.

It can be useful if the nature of your colour work sees one colour — more often than not, cyan — used up faster; with a combined colour cartridge, this can give all subsequent prints the ‘jaundiced’ look, unless you replace the entire cartridge, wasting the unused colours.

The new printer offers another feature that will appeal to home users: The ability to mix-n-match high and low-capacity cartridges for the same colour.

The standard cartridges bear an MRP of Rs. 460 each and are supposed to be good for about 250 average-density pages of black and 350 pages of coloured work. The lower capacity cartridges (Rs.250 each) promise about 180 pages.

Ram Prasad, Business Manager, Consumer Products, at Epson India, explained that ‘cheaper’ did not mean lower quality: Both types of cartridges came with the same DURAbrite pigment-based ink that Epson has developed.

If you are a typical home user, who mostly works in monochrome, conserving colour for occasionally printing photos or greeting cards, it will make sense to invest in the cheaper cartridges for the three colours and buy a standard black of higher capacity.

For a budget printer the CX5500 is zippy, at around 25 pages a minute in draft mode; though colour photos can take a minute each to pop out. Both text and photos are quite sharp, when the right quality setting is chosen.... something that Epson attributes to its MicroPiezo print head and the variable-sized droplet technology it invented. This means the head produces medium-sized drops to get solid colour in place fast — then switches to very fine dot sizes for work that needs fine gradation.

Epson’s home printers come with user-friendly software that makes printing photos quite intuitive, and does operations like PhotoEnhance: Automatically adjusting for skin tones and exposure levels. It also allows one to print web pages without doing complicated adjustments.

The CX5500 is being offered by dealers in India this month for Rs.4,999 plus tax which is slightly below the MRP and almost the same as the converted international dollar price. For someone contemplating a first printer or upgrading to a multi-function version, this model will be a sensible starting point.

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