Epson Artisan 725 Arctic Edition: Shiny, White, and Fast, With Cheap Inks
At a Glance
Epson Artisan 725 Arctic Edition
Home users with light printing needs will like everything about this MFP except its lackluster quality on plain paper.
The Epson Artisan 725 Arctic Edition color inkjet multifunction (print/copy/scan) is a step or two down in features from the company's flagship Artisan 835. For its lower $200 price (as of November 17, 2010), however, it delivers the same high-quality output and cheap inks. Note that the glossy-white version we reviewed is available only through Best Buy stores and BestBuy.com; an all-black model is available everywhere else.
You can set up the Artisan 725 via wireless, USB, or ethernet. We chose the first method, and the process was painless. The hard-copy setup guide is nice, but the full user guide is Internet-only and of no use unless you are connected. The software that Epson bundles is minimal but competent. Easy Photo Print offers templates and layouts for enhancing photo prints. Epson's scan utility provides both novice and advanced modes.
The tilt-up control panel on the Artisan 725 is easy to use, although the multicolored lighting scheme looks a bit haphazard--especially on the Arctic-white, Best Buy-only model we tested. The 2.5-inch color touchscreen LCD sits within a backlit touch panel whose controls appear and disappear contextually.
Media handling for the Artisan 725 is low-volume but extremely versatile. A bottom-mounted, 120-sheet paper tray with a dedicated, 20-sheet photo paper tray is nested inside. The output tray is rather flimsy, but will hold 30 sheets. Automatic duplexing is standard. You can insert printable optical media (CDs, DVDs) via a separate, single-disc tray that extends and retracts with the press of a button. Two media-card slots accept CompactFlash, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card. Like many lower-end models, the Artisan 725 has no automatic document feeder for scanning multipage documents. The flatbed scanner is letter-size.
The Artisan 725 performed swiftly in our tests. Text pages printed at an above-average rate of 7.4 pages per minute on both the PC and the Mac. The actual output was gray and a little fuzzy, improving only when we switched to the slower, ink-guzzling Fine mode.
Photo speed topped the charts, with snapshot-size photos printing at 5.4 ppm on letter-size plain paper; unfortunately they looked faded. Output to glossy photo paper was only 2.1 ppm, but the results looked much smoother and natural. The larger, complex photo that we print using the Mac took a hair over a minute to print--which is actually very fast--and although it looked a little oversaturated, it was still very nice. Scans and copies were also much faster than average, with good output quality.
The Artisan 725's ink costs are low--better than those for the Canon Pixma MG5220, but still not quite as low as those for the Kodak ESP 7250. It uses five color cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, and light magenta. Epson offers only one size of black for this model: a $17.09, 520-page, high-yield cartridge running 3.3 cents per page. The high-yield colors each cost $16 and produce approximately 805 pages, or 2 cents per color per page. Standard-size colors cost $10.44 apiece and last 510 pages, or just over 2 cents per color per page. A four-color page would cost 9.4 cents with the standard-size colors, or 9.2 cents with the high-yield colors.
The Epson Artisan 725 provides features and speed galore, enough to satisfy most home users. Even better, its ink costs are very competitive. We'll forgive the poor plain-paper graphics, as this is not really a business printer--but if you buy this model, remember to switch to Fine mode to get top-quality text.