The Epson Stylus CX8300 is a mid-range inkjet multifunction printer that provides surprisingly good quality prints for its price point. Despite some room for improvement with the software and the printer's interface, this is definitely a good buy for the average user.
One of the major pitfalls of Epson's range is its software. While functional, the software can often be frustrating to install and use. The CX8300 has a custom install option, but it requires the individual software applications to be installed one by one, rather than simultaneously. For most users, the automated installation process will suffice and ultimately provide less set-up hassles.
There are a number of PC-free functions available through the 2.5in adjustable LCD screen and these are actually quite impressive. Memory card and photo menu options provide several photo-based customisation options. These features allow users to print photos from a memory card or digital camera in a variety of ways including index sheets and stickers, as well as the ability to scan and automatically restore colour to old photos. The inclusion of the photo functions into the CX8300 is a welcome addition, given that the multifunction is not classified as a "Stylus Photo" model.
The print quality is also quite impressive. Four individual colour ink tanks provide a resolution of up to 5760x1440dpi and produce good results. In comparison to Epson's flagship Stylus Photo RX690, colour quality was almost on par, but there were noticeable differences. Colour accuracy was a slight problem, with exaggerated colours resulting in reddish flesh tones and outdoor photos that were too bright. Given that CX8300 has four inks as opposed to the Stylus Photo RX690's six obviously gives the more expensive multifunction a greater ability to reproduce colour more accurately. Nevertheless, given its price point, the CX8300 definitely managed to deliver impressive results.
Printing speeds were acceptable, and the CX8300 pushed out 4.7ppm using documents with both normal text and graphics at normal print quality. This speed increased to 18.8ppm for documents printed in draft quality, however this also lead to a steep sacrifice in print quality. Photo printing is slower - as expected — with A4 photos printing in 3min 14sec, and 4x6in photos printing in 1min 5sec.
The CX8300's scanning quality compares favourably with Epson's flagship model. The multifunction can handle scanning resolutions of up to 1200x2400dpi, however this can easily result in image sizes in excess of 150MB. Nevertheless, the CX8300 provided detailed scans, especially in brighter images. Colour accuracy was generally good, though most images were slightly dull in comparison to the original.
The multifunction has a single rear paper tray, capable of holding up to 120 sheets of A4 paper. This is adequate for most home office uses, although the addition of a front paper tray would have been handy. The CX8300 supports most popular media, including SD, CompactFlash, XD, MemoryStick, and a PictBridge USB port. Unfortunately, there is no support for scanning directly to a memory card.
Consumables for the device are inexpensive in comparison to other multifunction devices, priced at $14.49 each for four cartridges. With a page yield of 245 sheets for the black cartridge and 110 sheets for each of the colour cartridges, the printer's yield capability isn't outstanding. Nevertheless, given the price of the cartridges, this multifunction remains cost effective .
The Epson CX8300 is an excellent mid-range multifunction device. Despite some slight quibbles, the high standard of print quality offered by this printer will serve the average home user well.