Review: Epson K300

SHARE

[This review originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]

By: Steven Vea

The K-series is Epson’s monochrome venture into the market of low cost per page printing, with the K300 as its high end product. Designed for use in small offices and businesses, let’s see how this all-in-one inkjet printer challenges its laser rivals.

Once it’s out of the box, users will be greeted with a very neat and basic interface, which does well to blend in with any office or workspace setting. There is a front facing control panel that tilts upwards to around 45 degrees, with a small monochrome LCD screen that displays a vertical menu with two (2) lines of text. Off to the right side, you’ll notice the dominant directional buttons (with an “OK” in the center) as well as the buttons for Menu, Return, Start/Print and Cancel/Restart Print, which are all represented by icons/symbols. There are no text labels on the any of the physical buttons, which may take quite awhile to get used to, and may require consulting the manual from time to time.

Setting it up for initial use is quite painless, and with a little patience, you can have it up and running in no time at all. The K300 uses two monochrome DURABrite Ultra ink cartridges, which is installed by lifting the scanner panel to reveal the K300’s insides. It locks firmly into place and once you close the lid, it will initiate an “Ink Charging” state which lasts roughly ten minutes, which was a lot longer than I expected and desired.

However, installing the software drivers and setting up network connectivity via Ethernet has been made extremely simple, thanks to Epson’s included software installer. The entire process is practically automated, only requiring a few clicks to proceed onto the next steps of the installation. The network detected the printer quickly and easily and vice versa, so users should have no problems installing the K300 whether it’s at home or in a small office. It’s curious not to see wireless capability though, which could have benefited workspace productivity even more, but perhaps this was a cost cutting manufacturing solution.

Connections and connectivity are considerably important, but what’s more significant is the quality – and the K300 does not disappoint in this regard and passes with flying colors. With a maximum print resolution of 1440 x 720 dpi, quality is a non-issue but rather a guarantee. Documents printed in draft mode can easily rival the standard modes of its competition. Moreover, printing is extremely fast, for both dual-sided documents and over the network, which should satisfy the needs of immediacy and efficiency of small businesses looking to maximize their productivity.

The front loading paper “cassette”, or the paper tray, on the K300 leaves more to be desired though – it feels quite flimsy compared to the solid build of the rest of the printer, and adjusting the borders to the appropriate paper size is a little challenging. It’s also quite a hurdle just to load/unload the cassette, but since it can take a maximum of 250 sheets, users will not have to refresh the paper supply very often.

Now that we’ve established the printing quality of the K300, the star of the show is actually its scanner (color and monochrome), which is one of the best we’ve seen thus far. When scanning at the software’s recommended “Office” preset at 300dpi, copying a single page document via the flatbed and saving it to a digital image took no more than four seconds. Using the top load bay to scan was a little trickier to operate though, but the scan time remained the same. I would have liked to see a larger scan size than 8.5”x 11.4” on the K300 though, to accommodate US Legal size or Long Bond Paper (8.5”x 14”).

The K300 features duplex printing and duplex scanning, which simply means that it can print and scan both sides of a page simultaneously, saving those precious seconds. Having this capability definitely makes having the K300 around more efficient, especially for urgent time sensitive instances, as well as bulk prints.

Although the suggested retail price of the K300 isn’t exactly cheap for a purely monochrome printer, it offers an impressive low cost per page selling point of only Php 0.45, ensuring that your savings will be reflected down the road. Moreover, having an excellent scanner, copier and the capacity for duplex prints and scans, makes the K300 a valuable all-in-one solution for any small office or workspace setting.

The only question that remains is if there is a viable market for monochrome devices, considering that there are other options that offer color prints at the same price. For after all, not everything is in black and white.

What’s hot:
–          Low cost in the long run
–          High print yield
–          Duplex print and scan

What’s not:
–          No wireless connectivity
–          Initial purchase is expensive
–          Hardware navigation confusing

Buy Meter: 8.0

 Bottomline:
The Epson K300 AIO monochrome inkjet printer is an excellent and efficient addition to any small workspace or office setting.

Specifications:
Ink System: Monochrome
Ink Type: Epson DURABrite® Ultra Ink
Max. Print Resolution: 1440 x 720 dpi (with Variable-Sized Droplet Technology)
Min. Ink Droplet size: 2pl
Max. Print Speed: approx 37 ppm (Black Text/A4/Draft mode)
Max. Copy Speed: first out in 4 sec (Black Text /A4/Draft mode)
Scanner: Flatbed + ADF, 1200 dpi optical resolution
Scan Area: 216 x 297 mm (8.5″ x 11.7″)
Connectivity – USB, Ethernet
OS: Windows XP / XP Professional x64 Edition / Vista / 7 Mac OS 10.4.11 or later
Max. Paper Size                8.5″ x 44″
Max. Paper Capacity:  150 sheets, A4 Plain (75g/m2) Output Capacity: 50 sheets, A4 Plain