Print speed and quality tests
I’ve only reviewed a handful of inkjets that couldn’t pass on the black and white text quality, and the B-510dn certainly wasn’t one of them. I thought the text quality was excellent, as good as I’ve seen from an inkjet trying to deliver laser quality prints (although there is just something about a warm crisp laser print out that can’t be beat).
Epson only advertises that the B-510dn can print up to 18 pages per minute (ppm) in color, so one would assume that it should be able to print as quickly when working on strictly black and white text documents. And during our test, we confirmed that assumption. The Epson B-510dn printed our 40-page black and white text document at a rate of 18 ppm with a first page out in as fast as 5 seconds.
What was cool about the B-510dn was that it printed full page color documents at the exact same rate. Granted, printing color documents with an inkjet on run of the mill copy paper doesn’t give offices the same quality as a color laser, but you could say the B-510dn as a color laser beat in some ways because it can print color photos. Plus, when printing full color documents on Epson’s Premium Presentation paper, the quality was vastly improved.
We did print both 8.5 x 11 and 4×6 photo prints with the B-510dn because we were interested to see how a business inkjet would perform in the photo arena. I’m sad to say, that the B-510dn didn’t live up to my standards in this area. The photos weren’t great and the B-510dn didn’t even offer a photo paper option in the drop down list of paper choices.
The one plus side was that B-510dn did print the photos quickly; it printed a 4×6 print in as fast as 34 seconds and 8.5 x 11 print in less than a minute. I should also say that even though I thought the photo quality wasn’t up to par, it was still better than anything a laser printer could produce as you can see below. The problem was I’ve seen much better from Epson’s WorkForce inkjet line, and it’s much cheaper.
Ink control tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges. In this case, exhaustion means the printer will not print another quality document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.
The Epson B-510dn included four standard capacity Epson ink cartridges (CMYK). Epson does offer high capacity ink cartridges for the Epson B-510dn but since they weren’t included in the original packaging, we didn’t test them.
And thank goodness for that, or otherwise I might still be doing ink tests. At the ratio of 3:1 in Epson’s standard printing mode, the B-510dn printed almost 2000 pages (1920) before the printer elicited a status message alerting me that the magenta cartridge was running low.
At 2080 pages, identical status messages popped up on the printer and my PC, alerting me that the magenta ink was out and that I should change the cartridge. I thought Epson did a good job on the low ink status message, giving a business about 160 pages between the ink low warning and expiration.
I thought over 2,000 pages for a standard capacity color cartridge was pretty good but Epson actually advertises that the three color cartridges should provide about 3,500 pages. Of course, these numbers vary depending on the amount of color printed per page so I wasn’t shocked that our full color page was taxing on the magenta cartridge, it’s almost always the first to go during our tests. Plus, I think a major concern for a business would be how the black cartridge held up and I believe it would have produced close to 3,000 pages, as advertised.
I did not have any paper jams during my print testing, but I did notice when I forgot to line up the paper guides correctly, the print outs were slightly off the mark. However, this was something I could easily correct.
I did, however, have several print jams when trying to automatically duplex items (print double sided). It was really hit or miss whether the printer would bring the paper back in smoothly or if it would get caught between the actual printer and the attached duplexing unit.
The B-510dn uses slightly more energy than the normal inkjet but it’s also much larger and prints much faster. We saw energy spikes as high as 35 W while printing, but it stayed in a range of about 27 – 33 W when printing color documents and 23-29 W when printing black and white documents.
When printing photos, the energy use was lower, between 15-21 W. The B-510dn also used about this much energy when warming up from off mode (warm up usually took less than a minute).
In ready mode, the B-510dn was closer to other inkjets, pulling in about 6 W. In power save mode, it used even less energy, around 3 W.