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Comparison: Low-Price Multifunction Devices

Photo Quality

Things get more interesting with photo printing.

Actual size original photoOriginal photo enlarged 3X

The original photo measured 10 x 15cm. We printed it out on each all-in-one using the default parameters, choosing only the type of paper and quality we wanted. Then we scanned the results at 300 dpi on a Canon CanoScan 3000.

Canon F20Epson CX 3200
hp psc 1210Lexmark X5150

For colors and detail, the CX3200 beats all the rest. It is the only all-in-one to produce invisible dots when the prints are viewed at a distance of 12 inches. Closer in, you can notice a few drops of blue in the flesh tones, but it doesn't matter a lot.

The Canon photo prints are not bad. They can be improved somewhat by using the utility supplied, Easy Photo Print, rather than Adobe Photoshop, which we used. If you run Easy Photo Printer and select the Vivid Photo option, you'll get greater contrast and the photos will be brighter and more pleasing.

HP, to preserve its top-range multifunction devices, has not enabled the PSC 1210 for its photo cartridge. You have to make do with the standard set, meaning PhotoRet III mode, when all the other HP printers use IV, with 3500 colors instead of 1.2 million, and drops that are 20% bigger. Of course, it shows. The drops of inks are noticeable, and even though not comparable with those of the latest photo printers, the end result is still satisfactory.

Lexmark prints, on the other hand, are less satisfactory because they are too yellow and, as with the models from Canon and HP, you can see the drops. We do not recommend the X5150 for photo printing.

Photo Print Speed

The Epson all-in-one works well, but slowly. The Canon is about twice as fast. The Lexmark fails again, with the slowest speed and the poorest quality.

Though it does not run very fast, the Epson still wins the color photo test.