Ink jet printers are notorious for high ink costs. While the printers themselves are often attractively inexpensive, the cost of the ink over the life of the printer, make consumers shiver in pain. Yet the ink jet technology works quite well, so there must be a way to lower ink costs, even if it means increasing the initial cost of the printer. To that end, a few ink jet printers with higher initial costs but lower maintenance costs are starting to appear. Initially these printers are being placed in the business category. One that we were excited to see is the Epson B-510DN. Although the printer costs USD 599, the cost of consumables is cheaper than those for many laser printers.
The Epson B-510DN comes in a large cardboard box, shown in Figure 1. The size of the box is not really surprising as the B-510DN is a large printer. The printer itself is shown in Figure 2 before the packing materials have been removed. It measures 18.9" x 21.6" x 12.3" (480 mm x 549 mm x 312 mm). It weighs 24 lbs (10.84 kg), excluding the ink cartridges.
Also included are the four ink cartridges and power cable, a software disk, a Network Installation guide, and a Start Here Guide, which was included in our box in both English and French. These are shown in Figure 3.
In Figure 4, you see the paper trays and cover.
Everything about this printer is super-sized. At 6.5" x 3.9" x 0.9", each of the ink cartridges is about as big as a paperback book.
[nextpage title=”Setup & Hardware”]
The B-510DN is a capable professional printer. As such, you will immediately see that the design emphasis is on efficiency rather than good looks. As you can see in Figure 5, the printer is a large two-tone rectangular device. The front and part of the top are in black while the top and sides are very light gray. The paper tray juts out in the front, so the printer itself requires quite a bit of desk or table space. The ink-cartridge bay which can be seen on the left also protrudes from the face of the printer, making it look a bit awkward.
Setting up the printer through a USB connection is easy, all you need to do is follow the instructions. The ink cartridges slide into slots behind the door on the left front of the printer and lock into place, as shown in Figure 6. The software disk includes drivers and utilities for all versions of Windows and Mac. The User’s Guide is available in the software disk or online.
This printer can also be setup through Ethernet and the network setup instructions were included. You will have to supply your own cable for use with this printer, as neither a USB nor Ethernet cable is included. We tested the printer on a network as well as on several computers with different Windows versions and it worked well in all cases.
If you don’t want to be constantly bothered by having to add paper to your printer, this Epson will be perfect. The main input tray holds an entire ream (500 sheets) of paper. The tray at the top of the printer, shown in Figure 7, holds another 150 sheets or can be used to feed in envelopes or labels.
The back of the printer is shown in Figure 8. This is where you see the useful duplexing unit that is included with the printer, and allows you to automatically print on both sides of each paper sheet. The duplexer can be easily removed to clear paper jams and there are pictorial stickers that will walk you through that process. In our testing, we had no paper jams of any type.
Just to the left of the duplexing unit you can see the Ethernet and the USB ports, and the power cable connection is near the bottom of the rear of the unit (see Figure 8).
[nextpage title=”Using the Epson B-510DN”]
A two-line monochrome LCD screen can be seen on the right side of the face of the printer, as you can see in Figure 9. The LCD screen is used for status updates, menu choices, and ink levels.
The ink and paper status lights near the top of the front of the printer can also be seen in Figure 9. To the right of that is the power light. Under the screen are the power button and the cancel button. The cancel button can be used to stop a print job or to exit from a menu choice. Menus and settings can be accessed using the four-way keypad which has an OK button in the middle for confirming menu choices.
Under the cancel button is an unusual icon that looks like a white ink drop with a bracket under it. This signifies what Epson calls the “Maintenance Box.” Just under this icon is the door that opens for replacement of the maintenance box. The maintenance box collects stray ink during priming and printing and must be replaced every 35,000 pages.
In using this printer, three things stand out:
1. It is a heavy-duty printer rated for a monthly duty cycle of 20,000 pages. The size of the paper trays and print cartridges support this product’s heavy-duty status.
2. It is a speedy printer. Its 32 MB of RAM and straightforward paper path combine to make it remarkably fast. Our plain text documents printed faster than 14 pages per minute. We were able to print three 4-by-6-inch color photos in about 1 minute. The printer is rated for a maximum of 37 ppm black and color, and ISO print speeds of 19 ISO (black) or 18 ISO (color).
3. The cost of consumables is one of the lowest we’ve seen for an ink jet printer. The duplexer saves on paper while ink costs are kept low by high-yield and extra-high-yield ink cartridges and an excellent draft mode.
The third point is especially impressive. The standard-capacity cartridges that come with the printer are good for approximately 3,000 pages for black and 3,500 for each color. Standard-capacity cartridges cost USD 40 for black and USD 50 apiece for the three colors. So using standard-size supplies, the cost comes out to about USD 0.013 per page for black and USD 0.014 for each color. That means that a full-color page would cost USD 0.056.
Higher-capacity cartridges have even higher yields. High-yield black ink comes in at USD 0.012 per page, high-yield color costs USD 0.009, and extra high-yield black costs USD 0.0087. Even if you factor in the cost of the “Maintenance Box” at USD 17.50 for each 35,000 pages, this printer offers ink costs that can rival color lasers with costs as low as USD 0.009 per black and USD 0.035 per color page.
The draft mode is especially speedy and cost-effective. Unlike the draft mode in some ink jets, the B510 DN produces readable text in black print with identifiable graphics.
We found the print quality of this Epson printer to be very good. However, it is not as good as some. A close inspection of the text shows it to be not quite as crisp as some of the other printers we have reviewed. Put under a magnifying glass next to the black text output from the Brother HL-2140 laser or the recently-reviewed HP Office Jet Pro 800, the B-510DN’s output looked a trifle fuzzy.
The same holds true for color documents and photos. While the color prints from this printer are good, you can find better. Although this printer is not advertised as a photo printer, it can do an adequate, but not perfect job, with photos on photo paper. One caveat is that it cannot produce borderless prints.
The B-510DN has all the functions that you would expect to find in a business-class printer including collating, reverse order printing, fit-to-page, and watermarking functions. The color palette can be either Epson Vivid or Adobe RGB. Although most people no longer use it, it may be worth mentioning that it has no PCL or PostScript emulation.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The Epson B-510DB ink jet printer main specifications include:
- Dimensions: 18.9" x 21.6" x 12.3" (480 mm x 549 mm x 312 mm)
- Weight (excluding ink cartridges): 24 lbs (10.84 kg)
- Printing Technology: MicroPiezo ink jet technology
- Resolution: Up to 5760 x 1440 dpi
- Ink Type: DURABrite Ultra Ink
- Print Speeds (maximum): 37 ppm
- Print Speeds (ISO): 19 ISO ppm (black), 18 ISO ppm (color)
- Input Paper Capacity: Up to 500 legal-size sheets
- Rear Automatic Sheet Feeder: Up to 150 letter-size sheets or up to 60 legal-size sheets with optional support
- Paper Sizes: Letter (8.5" x 11"), A4 (8.3" x 11.7"), Legal (8.5" x 14"), 8" x 10", 4" x 6", 16:9 wide, (4" x 7.11"), Envelope #10 (4.125" x 9.5"), A6 (4.1" x 5.8"), Half Letter (5.5" x 8.5"), user definable
- Duplex Printing: Automatic duplex unit
- Memory: 32 MB
- Printer Control Language Emulation: Epson ESC/P-Raster, and ESC/P2
- Connectivity: USB 2.0 and Fast Ethernet ports
- Monthly Duty Cycle: 20,000 pages (monthly volume of 4,000 pages is recommended)
- Noise level: 56 dB (draft) or 55 dB (default)
- Warranty: One year
- More Information: http://www.epson.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 600
With a suggested price of USD 599 in the US, the B-510DN is on the high-end of the Epson ink jet printers. A similar printer, the B-310N, has a suggested price of USD 399, but it lacks the B-510DN’s automatic duplexer and doesn’t accept the high-yield cartridges, which effectively increases the cost of consumables.
The cost of consumables is where the Epson B-510DN really shines. The automatic duplexer saves on paper and the high-yield ink cartridges keep ink costs down. Using the excellent draft mode will lower costs even more.
Consumables are easily replaced with both the ink cartridges and maintenance box having an access door right on the front of the printer. The large capacity paper tray will keep trips to the supply closet at a minimum.
While this output of this printer is not perfect, it is quite good. It can handle just about any job including photo printing. The remarkable speed of the printer and the high volume that the printer can handle, make it an excellent business printer. If you are a perfectionist, you may want to use another print service or another printer for your important presentations, but this printer is excellent for internal use, as well as for most average print projects.
- Economical ink costs
- Built-in Duplexer
- Easy to replace cartridges
- Dual paper trays
- High capacity paper trays
- Handles legal-size paper
- High 20,000 page monthly duty cycle
- Big and unattractive
- Can’t produce borderless prints