Epson Artisan 810 Has Speed and Features Galore, but Output Quality Is Disappointing
At a Glance
The Epson Artisan 810 color inkjet multifunction printer has speed and versatility to spare. Considering the price ($300 as of November 24, 2009), however, we expected better overall output quality.
Though the Artisan 810's text-printing speed was just average at about 7.3 pages per minute, it finished at or near the top in all of our other print, scan, and copy speed tests. The output quality was less stellar. On Epson's own photo paper, flesh tones looked warm and natural. On plain paper, all photos had a filmy look. Plain text looked fuzzy and dim. Scans and copies were acceptable despite some general fuzziness; a photo enlargement looked murky.
Since you'll need to buy special paper to get better output results, it's nice to know that the ink costs for the Artisan 810 are average or better, especially compared with the sky-high ink prices for Epson's WorkForce product line (we reviewed the WorkForce 310 and WorkForce 600). The Artisan 800 comes with standard-size inks: a 545-page black cartridge, plus 500-page cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, and yellow cartridges. Replacements cost $17.09 for black (3.1 cents per page) and $10.44 for each color (2.1 cents per page). A page with all six colors would cost 13.6 cents. Epson sells high-yield, 855-page cartridges for all but black; they cost $15.99 each, or 1.9 cents per color, per page. The like-priced HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One has higher ink costs overall.
The Artisan 810 is mostly easy to operate. The 7.8-inch, touchscreen control panel includes a 3.5-inch color LCD and has context-sensitive LED "buttons" that light up as needed. The panel angles upward easily, but releasing it requires fumbling for the unlabeled lever underneath. Two media card slots support CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card, and the machine has a PictBridge port. USB, ethernet, and wireless connections are available.
Paper handling is a mixed bag. I'm glad that the Artisan 800 supports automatic duplex printing, as well as printing labels on specially coated CD/DVD media using an included tray. The 30-page automatic document feeder handles legal-size paper, too. On the downside, the paper trays are universally flimsy and inconveniently designed: The 120-sheet main input has a removable lid that doubles as a photo-paper tray (up to 20 sheets of 5-by-7-inch paper), and you can't load the input trays unless you retract the three-panel output tray that covers them.
The many premium features of the Epson Artisan 810 are appealing, and its ink costs are affordable. Unfortunately, it requires pricey photo paper for the best output quality, which is disappointing since the machine itself costs so much.