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Epson B-510DN Inkjet Printer Rivals Color Lasers With Its High Print Speeds and Low Ink Costs

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At a Glance
  • Epson B-510DN Business Color Inkjet Printer

The Epson B-510DN could become the first crossover color inkjet printer success, outperforming the other members of its cohort--along with many lower-end color lasers--in print speed and cost per page. All this talent comes at a high initial price ($599 as of June 28, 2010). But if you need speed, volume, and economy, plus good photo printing, the B-510DN is well worth considering.

The B-510DN's design is efficient rather than aesthetically pleasing. Replacing consumables is a snap, thanks to the front ink-cartridge bay, but the bay protrudes awkwardly from the unit's face. The control panel consists of a two-line monochrome LCD and a few buttons whose purposes are clear even without word labels. The front input tray holds 500 letter-size/legal-size sheets and has a 170-sheet output tray on top. A rear input accepts envelopes and the like (or another 150 sheets of paper). It can connect via USB or ethernet. Automatic duplexing is included as a standard feature.

Pages virtually flew out of the B-510DN. On the PC, the printer generated plain-text pages at an average speed of 14.7 pages per minute, and 4-by-6-inch color photos on letter-size media at 3.4 ppm. On the Mac, it delivered plain-text pages at 13.82 ppm, and a four-page PDF of mixed text and graphics arrived at a rate of 2 ppm. A high-resolution color photo (at near-full-page size) printed at 1.1 ppm.

Print quality was very good. Photos on Epson's own matte paper had accurate colors and a slightly dotty (but even) texture. The same images on plain paper looked washed out and grainy. Text printed on plain paper appeared nicely dark but a little fuzzy--one of the few areas where similarly priced lasers and even the HP OfficeJet Pro 8000 Wireless fared a little better.

The B-510DN's consumables are extremely inexpensive. Its standard-size supplies include the T616100, a $40, 3000-page black cartridge (which works out to 1.3 cents per page) and $50, 3500-page cyan (T616200), magenta (T616300), and yellow (T616400) cartridges (1.4 cents per color per page). A full-color page would cost just 5.6 cents. The high-yield colors (with T617 designations) each cost $60 and last 7000 pages, or 0.9 cent per color per page. Epson also offers two larger black tanks: the T617100 ($50), a 4000-page cartridge; and the T618100 ($70), an 8000-page cartridge. The former marginally reduces the cost per page to 1.2 cents (hardly worth the bother compared to the T616100), while the latter cuts per-page expense to just 0.87 cent. A maintenance tray to collect leftover ink costs $17.50 and lasts for 35,000 pages. The Oki C610dtn color LED printer costs a little more and is a little faster, but its toner is a bit more expensive, too.

The Epson B-510DN removes nearly all question of whether an inkjet printer can succeed in business. It offers competitive speeds and ink costs--enough to make vendors of some lower-end color lasers nervous.

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At a Glance
  • Businesses interested in a color laser should look at this alternative before they buy: It’s fast, very cheap to use, and can print better photos.

    Pros

    • Ink cartridges sell at rock-bottom prices
    • Great photo prints on special paper
    • Extremely speedy

    Cons

    • Very expensive purchase price
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