It is gratifying to see that many printer manufacturers these days are focussed on user ergonomics and ease of use when it comes to the design of the touch control panel. Epson will pride itself as the first major brand to adopt them, and now then, even the not so pricey Stylus Photo PX660 adorns one of its complete, angled face panels. The Epson Stylus Photo PX660 Photo Printer is a mid-range printer from its gamut of ink-jet multi-function peripherals (MFPs), which has about 25 models. The PX660 is a photo-oriented machine with a memory card which supports all standard formats of memory cards, six-ink and direct printing support provided by the PictBridge USB.  Let us get into the details of the machine, but first a look at the positives and negatives of the printer.

Positives:

  • Reasonably good print quality and is excellent, particularly when making use of the Epson inks & paper
  • Good photo quality
  • Easy set up
  • Stylish looks

Negatives:

  • Takes some time to find USB port
  • Higher ink costs
  • Low print speeds
  • Takes a while to come to terms with all settings & functions
  • Printing without a border leads to slight discolouration at the end side of the image
  • Scanner has no OCR facilities

Features:

There is an omission from the product spec which deserves a mention. Whilst most of the competitors of the PX660 would either have a wireless network interface or wired Ethernet port, the PX660 comes with an old, basic USB port. While you can still make use of the Windows’ printer sharing for sharing it with your PCs, you would have to leave the host PC ‘ON’

When you look at the present range of ‘Stylus’ machines from Epson, it is not easy to spot out the difference as they all are jet black in colour and its size is pretty compact and rectangular and so is the Epson Stylus Photo PX660 All-in-One Printer, thereby giving you great value for your bucks. More often than not, it is the availability of the automatic printer document feeder that separates the machine from the rest. Like two peas in a pod, it is not easy to differentiate it from the Stylus Photo PX650, its immediate predecessor in both features as well as looks. Its dimension 451 (W) x 386 (D) x195 (H) mm and weight of 8.5kg differ only marginally, while the layout looks more or less the same.

Control panel: Though the control panel of Epson PX650 and PX660 might look more or less the same, there has been for sure a shift in emphasis. First, you cannot miss the touch panel symbols that easily with the big question mark to the left of its LCD screen of size 63mm, large Home icon and 4 navigation arrows in addition to the ‘Stop’ and ‘Start’ symbols and related additional functions to the right. There is now a few huge brilliantly backlit controls located on both sides as piece of brilliant navigation touch control panel instead of the physical buttons that enable you to scan easily through the control menus and select your options fast and more efficiently, although it is disappointing that one needs to look into control menus before one accesses images of memory card instead of having the customary dedicated button.
Overall, the printer is built with only few controls. This said, the PX660 still manages to give you a wide range of the important all-in-one functions for printing, scanning, copying and handling photos.

Contact Image Centre (CIS) scanner: This scanner is designed with a pretty thin, fragile cover on extending hinges, therefore you will have no trouble scanning from both single sheets as well as books, though it is hard for you to keep the top cover open because it does not hinge past the vertical and would want to fall short, if it is not held in place, while you are loading an original.

Paper input capacity: You can find a 120-sheet A4 input tray, a single paper path that is feeding sheets from an angled paper tray located at the rear through directly to a telescopic one that pulls out from the front, when you pull down the front cover. At the base of the printer is a drop-down output tray having a socket meant for the DVD/CD tray that you can insert to print labels directly on to the disc. You need to lower the front tray to the horizontal for printing on disk, making use of an internal lever, by sliding in the CD carrier directly from the front.  Like the PX650, the PX660 is built short of Wi-Fi capability, so you can only connect the PC via the regular USB cable. Under the control panel, which opens out to any of the seven angles are 2 slots that are meant for memory cards which do their intended job of handling xD, SD, CompactFlash and MemoryStick. The integration of a PictBridge socket also does well as a front panel for the USB drives.

Print engine: Whilst the Epson Stylus Photo PX660 is relatively new, it is built on a print engine that has been in use for quite a few years. This said, it is no bad thing. The print engine makes use of ‘Claria dye-based inks’ and is built with a minimum ink droplet size of simply about 1.5 picolitres, which also features in few of our much-loved photo printers. Disappointingly, the Epson PX660 is not a brilliant printer for printing text documents like some of the previous Epson printers that we had tested. With less sharper and dark characters than created by, for instance Canon PIXMA MG6150 photo printer and the draft text which is faint and off-black, the performance overall seems to be satisfactory.

Software Installation: Installation of software does not get fast and easy than this one. You will be able to find OSX and Windows on the CD and on choosing Linux from the set up menu, there is a direct link to the Linux support page of Epson. Giving OCR support is a copy of ABBYY FineReader, on top of a choice of Epson’s utilities that cover most other aspects of the printer. The machine is a 6-colour printer with light magenta inks and light cyan that are added to the standard CMYK. You can find that each of the cartridges will neatly clip into the head carrier and this is a permanent fixture which should last the printer’s life.

Epson Stylus Photo PX660 Photo Printer

Performance:

Print speeds: The Epson Stylus PX660 Printer claims excellent print speeds of up to 38ppm in colour and 37ppm in mono. This said, it was no where close to the speeds it claims in our tests. Draft printing speed was decent at 15.8ppmm but at standard quality, we found the speed at a mere 4.8ppm, which is pretty short of its quickest competitors. At 3.3ppm, we found that on plain paper, the mixed colour prints were competitive; however photo prints are pretty slow and almost took 12.5 minutes to print 6 postcard-sized prints. Furthermore, on testing with a five page black text, the results are as follows: 20 seconds giving 15ppm in draft mode and 1:08 time producing 4.4ppm in normal mode and for printing 20 pages it took 4:18 (4.7ppm) in normal mode. At no point of time, did it leaped to 20ppm, let alone the print speeds of 38ppm. We tried printing 5 pages of colour print and the machine was able to do it in 1:27, giving you a speed of 3.5ppm.

Epson’s continual hype of poor print speeds prompted us to carry out more testing of its print speeds. A special document was created comprising simply one line of text (quite uncharacteristic). Five of these were printed in draft mode, not including the processing time. It consumed 6 seconds, from when the first sheet started to move to the final one spilling on the output tray. That is 550pmm which is far more than the 38ppm that the manufacturer claims. Nonetheless, if you take into account the time before the print starts, whilst the machine inspects things like ink levels, it gives you a speed at 12.5ppm in 24 seconds, which is roughly less than half the claim.
The need to wait for both printing and processing before you can make use of the document gives you not much option than to exclude the processing time in printing speed specifications. This is a common practise to several printer brands and manufacturers, however both Brother’s as well as Epson’s claims are miles away from what is reality.

The biggest advantage is that you could print off your photos without the need to feed through a Mac or PC, and still you are provided with the Easy Photo Print software that simply lets you to layout and print digital images without any trouble on different types of paper.

Print quality: When we expected a lot out of the photo quality from this inkjet printer, the results seems to be pretty far ordinary and disappointing. Whilst most subjects seemed to be brilliant, black and white prints, that are generally its strong suit, appeared to be terribly washed out. We looked further into it and observed (what was part of a minor update to the print interface) the default colour mode of Espon had been changed to Photo Enhance. You need to set it to colour control with the vivid profile for the machine to produce the expected results you might expect. The Photo Enhance facility helps colour correct to a much closer assimilation. Black text in normal mode is realistically well produced, but just that it could be a little fuzzy in cross heads and emboldened headlines. You will happen to see a different draft mode text that looks faint and jaggy. Not to mention that it comes through in dark brownish tone instead of black and it does not give one the best of impressions. Colour graphics are usually decent, although we happened to see some sort of banding in certain filled areas of business graphs. The colour copy appeared to lose a bit of the colour depth of the original, although it is still usable. We liked the photo quality of the printer with smooth, good levels of details and natural colours.

The Epson Stylus Photo PX660 is a six-colour printer and therefore, you can expect the running cost to be a tad higher than with 4 colour printers. You will also be able to find an ISO black page that costs 3.1p and an equivalent one that costs 10.3p at the best prices. When it comes to black cost, it is above average for this class of printers, although the cost of colour is a penny or so more than competition.

Scanners: We had to admit that Epson scanners in general are above average and the PX660 comes as no exception. It is swift and the images that it was able to capture seemed sharper and colours were splendid and accurate. No doubt, we were impressed with its knack of preserving subtle details in the very darkest and lightest of source material. Equally good were the photocopies with pretty reasonable accuracy in colour and preservation of darker details, courtesy its well-judged brightness.
There are several things we love about the Epson Stylus Photo PX660 Multi-function Printer, including low inkjet operating cost (in fact the lowest) available, if you stick to the ‘Owl’ series cartridges which is of pretty high capacity. But there is no way you can run away from the purchase price initially, which is just too high.

Manufacturer warranty:

The Epson Stylus Photo PX660 is covered under a standard manufacturer’s warranty of 1 year and there is also an optional warranty of 3 years (which is extendable).

Verdict:

The Epson PX660 is a middleweight, decent all-in-one that every photo enthusiast would love to have and not something that is meant for the small business customer. Easy and simple to use, it gives you remarkable extras including touch control panels and direct CD/DVD print. There is not much of a difference with other Epson machines when it comes to the print quality and the print speed which is reasonable is a far cry from what the manufacturer claims. If you are prepared to shell out £25 more, the PIXMA MG6150 should do no harm as it is brilliant in printing which looks pretty better on plain paper and comes with two paper trays, duplexer, and not to mention both wireless as well as wired network interfaces. And alternatively, there is the Canon MG5150 which rivals on the specs and features at just about £73.

Check other Photo Printer Reviews in this website.

Epson Stylus Photo PX660 Inkjet Printer – Technical Specification Table

Manufacturer Epson
Model Name Epson Stylus Photo PX660 Photo Printer
Colour/Monochrome Colour
Body Colour Black
Printing technology Epson Micro Piezo print head, (6-colour inkjet printer)
Dimensions (W x D x H) 451x386x195 mm
Ink System Epson Claria Photographic Ink
Print Resolution Up to 5760 x 1440
Print Speed Up to 37 ppm (black text A4); 12 secs (photo 10×15);
up to 38 ppm (colour text A4)
Scanner features Speed – Black A4: 600 dpi 3.1 msec/line, 300 dpi 1.6 msec/line;
Colour A4: 600 dpi 9.1 msec/line, 300 dpi 4.6 msec/line
Technology: A4 flatbed colour image scanner
Resolution: 1200 x 2400 dpi
Paper Capacity A4 (120 sheets) plain paper
Paper Trays 1
Media Size A4, Legal, Letter, 13×20 cm, 20×25 cm, 10×15 cm,
9×13 cm, 13×18 cm, A5, B5, A6, Envelopes: DL, No.10,C6
Printer Interface USB, PictBridge USB
Max. number of ink cartridges/ ink colours 6
Operating Systems Windows XP/ Vista, Win 7, XP-x64, Mac OS 10.4.11 or later
Weight 8.5 kg
Noise Level 37dB(A)- normal use
Supported memory cards CF, SDHC, SD,  Memory Stick Pro, MMC,  xD
Power consumption Approx. 1.5W (sleep mode), 18W ( ISO10561 Letter Pattern,
Standalone copying)
ENERGY STAR qualified Yes
Manufacturer warranty 1 year (optional warranty: 3 years)