Epson Stylus NX430 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer Review: Compact, No Frills, Great Output
At a Glance
A small inkjet multifunction printer with an overly long name, the $100 (as of January 24, 2012) Epson Stylus NX430 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer is well suited to tight spaces, and it offers excellent output quality and ease of use. The unit's main drawbacks are merely average ink costs, pedestrian speeds at the default settings, and no automatic duplexing.
Overall, the Stylus NX430 is easy to set up (via either USB or Wi-Fi) and use. The main installation is a breeze, and the touch-panel controls for the 2.5-inch LCD are easy to use (and rare on a $100 printer). Epson includes its mature and competent Epson Scan software, though the company seems unable to manipulate the Windows firewall so as to enable scanning to a Wi-Fi-attached PC from the printer control panel. You may have to add the exception for the Epson event manager yourself. Many users might never realize that push-scanning is an option. Mac users must download the event manager software and install it to add this capability. Push-scans via USB don't suffer from this problem.
Paper-handling features are minimal. A rear vertical feed holds 100 sheets of paper, and a front output tray accommodates 30 sheets. As noted earlier, there's no automatic duplexing; on the Mac, there isn't even support for manual duplexing (the PC driver offers dialog boxes that walk you through the process of manual duplexing). The letter/A4-size scanner lacks an automatic document feeder, and the scanner lid telescopes about 0.5 inch--enough to handle most magazines, but not most books. You'll also find card slots for Secure Digital and Memory Stick formats.
Epson equips its printers with more print quality modes than other vendors do. You get "Economy" (what others might call "draft"), "Fast economy" (an even faster but lower-quality draft), and "Fine" (where print quality takes precedence over economy and speed). Though "Fast economy" is fast, the resulting text is very light and can be difficult to read. "Fine" output, on the other hand, is about as good as you'll get from an inkjet, with deep blacks and sharp text. Color graphics have a cool temperature palette, but they exhibit excellent detail on both plain and glossy paper. Few users will find reason to complain about the Stylus NX430's output .
Unfortunately, the Stylus NX430's speed doesn't quite measure up to its print quality. Text and monochrome graphics print at a middling 4.8 pages per minute. Photos printed to glossy stock are particularly slow: A half-page color photo prints to plain paper at an acceptable 2.85 ppm, but the same image prints to glossy paper at just 0.72 ppm. On the Mac platform, full-page color photos print at only 0.28 ppm--slothful even by entry-level inkjet standards. Copies arrive at the same unhurried pace, but scans are reasonably fast.
Ink costs for the NX430 are about average--but only if you use high-yield supplies. The 415-page black tank costs $18.49, which works out to 4.45 cents per page, and the three colors--cyan, magenta, and yellow--cost $17.09 per color or 3.45 cents per page. That puts the price of a four-color page at about 14.8 cents. Epson also sells "moderate-use" cartridges: a 190-page black and 195-page cyan, magenta, and yellow. At $12.49 and $8.49 per cartridge, however, they cost 6.6 cents per page for black and 4.35 cents per page per color, or a whopping 19.6 cents for a four-color page.
The NX430's output is very good for the price, and its space-saving design is an advantage if your small or home office is quite small (and if you aren't a Mac user who needs duplex support). Also, remember to set the firewall exception for push-scanning. Affordable alternatives to this model include the Brother MFC-J430W and the Canon Pixma MX410.