Apr 172012
 

I recently had to replace my Canon printer – an office workhorse for many years. As it happened, my USB scanner was also showing worrying signs of decrepitude so it made sense to buy an All In One printer for occasional scans/photocopies and to free up some desk space.

I needed the new printer to be small, wireless and, above all, cheap to run – so that ruled out Lexmark ;-) Having decided on the Epson Stylus SX235W from the UK, here are my thoughts.

Epson Stylus SX235W Review – A quick summary is at the bottom of this article.

Price:

The SX235W cost just under £40 – very competitive for an all in one printer/scanner. Of course the cost of the printer itself nowadays is almost irrelevant – it’s the cost of ink cartridges that determines whether a printer is going to prove good value or become a gouging leech on your wallet.

Epson ink prices are very reasonable compared to most competitors (£23 for a standard 3 colour/black multipack) although much cheaper compatible cartridges are readily available – and that’s what I’m using. There is much debate about the use of genuine or compatible ink cartridges – see my separate review of ink cartridges.

Size:

Epson call the SX235W a ‘Small in One’ printer which is a clever pun and very true. Not only is it much smaller than standard all in ones but it’s even smaller and lighter than the plain standard printer it replaced. If space is at a premium, Epson’s Small In One range makes perfect sense – other models in this range include the SX435W and SX445W if you are looking for more features.

Specific measurements are: W39 x D30 x H14.5 cm. Weight is 4.1 Kg.

Features:

  • All In One – Printer, Scanner and Photocopier
  • Wireless or USB interface (as usual, no USB cable provided)
  • Small footprint – saves desk space
  • Compatible with Epson iPrint – lets you print photos and documents wirelessly from smartphones and tablets using the free iPrint app – Android iPrint app here and iPhone/iPad app here.
  • Individual inks – 3 colour cartridges and 1 black for individual replacement to save money
  • Print Speed – supposedly up to 30 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome or 15 ppm for colour. As with all printer manufacturer speeds, take these figures with a huge bucket of salt! Back here on planet Earth, I average about 5 ppm for black and 1 ppm for black and colour mixed text/graphics. Printing an A4 colour photo at high quality takes several minutes – time to put the kettle on.
  • Feed tray – up to 100 sheets of paper
  • Compatibility – Windows and Mac OS X. Linux printer driver available from Epson website here – search Linux forums for scanner support, various options available

‘Missing’ Features:

  • No LCD display – but the 6 buttons on the front panel minimize the need for a display. The buttons are for power on/off, Wireless on/off, network status printout, cancel job, black copy and colour copy.
  • No memory card (or USB) socket for direct printing without the need of a computer – no great loss for people who edit their photos on a computer first anyway, or print from a phone/tablet directly via iPrint.

Installation:

Installation is straightforward using the supplied CD – choose USB or wireless connection at the end of the process. For wireless connections: if your wireless router does not have WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) you will need a USB cable temporarily to configure the printer on the network. If your router does have WPS then you shouldn’t need a cable as wireless network setup will be automatic.

The start of the installation allows you to pick and choose which additional software you want installed.

Additional Software Included:

Abbyy FineReader Sprint (optional) – one click OCR and conversion utility that instantly turns your paper documents into various electronic formats, including Microsoft Word, Excel and searchable PDF.

Epson Easy PhotoPrint (optional) – allows you to easily layout and print digital images on various kinds of paper.

Epson Scan (required) – directly controls all of the features of the scanner. Scan images in colour, grayscale, or black and white. TWAIN interface.

Epson Event Manager, Epson Manual, Epson Driver Update – optional but recommended.

Summary

Good Points

Overall print quality is good.

Easy set up – USB or wireless connection.

Small footprint saves space.

Individual colour ink cartridges avoid expensive waste.

Cheap to buy. Genuine Epson ink cartridges are reasonably priced. Cheaper compatible inks widely available if required.

Photo quality is better than expected for a basic printer that is not aimed at photo printing.

Free Epson iPrint app allows direct printing from Android or iOS phones and tablets.

Draft print saves a lot of ink but only because it is so faint – this makes it very hard to read (see bad points below).

Bad Points

Fairly slow printing – ok as long as you don’t plan to print lots of documents every day. Acceptable for home or SOHO use but not for a larger office.

Draft print is extremely faint and uses a different font to normal text – ok for draft notes but I wouldn’t send it to anyone else or use in business. A bit of a con by Epson to make you use standard print (and therefore more ink) instead?

The scanner lid hinges don’t lift up which makes it more difficult to scan from larger items e.g. a hardback book.

Conclusion

Overall the Epson SX235W is an excellent cheap printer. It includes wireless, it’s an All In One, it’s small and it provides good quality printing at a cheap price.

Keen photo printing users may want to look elsewhere but for basic home and SOHO use with occasional photo prints it does the job very well.

The slowish printing speed isn’t as much of a concern unless you regularly print high volumes (in which case a laser printer may be worth considering) and the lack of an LCD screen isn’t a major issue – if you’re using wireless the odds are that you won’t be sat next to the printer anyway so an LCD screen would be somewhat redundant…

  7 Responses to “Epson Stylus SX235W Review – Cheap All In One Wireless Printer”

  1. Interesting article this. Having paid out a small fortune on inkjet printers over the years, it was only after reading this that I realised that there might finally be a way to ‘beat the system’. I have a kodak esp7 currently that has required six of seven print head changes in the two years of ownership and is now drinking ink like it was water. Very dissapointing (conned – yet again)! Getting a cheap but workable machine coupled with compatible ink carts at reasonable cost, looks like a viable alternative. From my research, it appears that some users claim compatibles don’t work in this machine. You, clearly, have a different experience. The (cheeky) USD64k question is, what ink do you use?

    • Hi Brian, there are so many unbranded compatibles around that some will not work in a particular printer whilst others will. The UK ones I use are linked to below – they’re unbranded but I went by the seller’s reputation/reviews which were generally very good.

      Epson’s Apple set (plus an extra black) costs about £45 – I’m on the first set of compatibles and they hold twice as much ink as Apple so I’ve saved far more than the £40 cost of the printer already. For that reason I won’t be bothered if it dies in months rather than years or the odd cartridge doesn’t work – although my last printer lasted 6 years on compatibles…

      Do read my separate review above on genuine vs compatibles. They ‘may’ brick your printer at some point or you ‘may’ find the quality of some unacceptable – if you’re not willing to deal with the hassle/risk/loss of warranty stick with genuine ink…

      5 Epson Compatible Printer Ink for Epson Stylus Various

      • Cracking, many thanks Roy (I did read the other article too). Frankly speaking, my Kodak buying experience was such a let down, I was going to see if my OKI dot matrix printer still works (in the loft somewhere….).

        With my green hat on, I do have a problem with throwing kit away mind you. It seems very wrong that printers are sold for peanuts and have a such a short working life particularly for want of (say) a new waste ink tank (costing close to nothing). Of course the business case (free printer and stupidly priced consumables) is clear enough.

        I have decided that Roy is right! If my forty-quid printer lasts just a few months on cheap ink before a visit to the local recycling facility, so be it. I feel the financial risk is far lower than the potential upside. Perhaps the junked printer will be turned into something fit (and affordable) for the purpose?

        Having had this minor epiphany, I believe you deserve a knighthood sir. Thanks again.

      • Hope you have good luck Brian – and there is some luck involved as printers may not last many years even using genuine ink throughout – there are other things to go wrong too e.g the sheet feeder and waste tank/chip.

        Re the green issue, I wouldn’t be happy throwing one away every few months but I erred on the side of caution with the risks just to make people aware (and not blame me if they’re unlucky!) – hopefully this printer will last well (last one 6 years) but, if it does go, so be it

  2. Update – decided on the Epson SX445W in the death – snap to set up and first impressions are positive – small footprint a massive plus point in my book. Went down the compatibles route too – thanks for the link Roy. Delivery was super quick and the product (need to watch the pricing since buying single multipacks even with double postage was cheaper than getting one double quantity) looks the part; vacuum sealed packs the type you would expect from OEM (let’s hope they work…). Happy bunny so far.

    cheers,

    Brian

  3. Good review..But…
    I just bought an Epson SX235W for my son, After installing my own SX535WD which i must say was a doddle.
    I spent over 3 hours trying to install the 235 with no success at all. The instructions are rubbish. I have installed 2 pcs and 2 laptops to my 535 at home, so i know what i’m doing.
    The 235 apparently is wireless with no need for a router..absolute rubbish, that said it does not say anything in the instructions about connecting to your router. press wifi on printer and hey presto, not likely 1 PC and 2 Laptops none of which could detect the printer. After givin up and returning the printer for a refund, I have now come upon further info (not from Epson) that…
    1 You may need a usb cable to connect first, so that it can send settings to the printer.
    2 You need to use wps setup on your router to connect to the printer first.

    so all in all 8 hours driving to Manchester and Back and 3 hours trying to install, with out full instructions, thanks a million epson…

    • Hi Peter, perhaps you were unlucky and got a faulty one? I’ve set up up about 10 of these now and had no problems with the CD install?

      As in my review, if you don’t have WPS then you need a USB cable to set it up the first time, if you do have WPS you shouldn’t need one. It does need a wifi router so you can connect PCs which don’t have wireless.

      The instructions are very brief – sadly all manufacturers seem to do this, often just an A3 ‘unpacking’ sheet. They could put more detail in – like the old days when you got a proper printed manual – much easier!