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Epson Stylus NX515

January 4th, 2010
All-in-One lightweight, compact printer.

Prints quickly, creates index sheets from memory cards. Has 2.5" LCD, 4 inks, and scans or copies. If you did not get the requested printer for a present, you should take a close look at the Epson Stylus NX515 for a home or small business printer. This All-in-One lightweight, compact printer includes print, copy, scan, and photo print capabilities, plus built-in WIFI and Ethernet. It sports a 2.5" LCD tilt screen that allows you print from any type of camera memory card, instant dry DURABrite Ultra ink, and comes in basic black.

I installed the printer drivers on my Intel iMac and PowerBook G4, because Epson includes bonus software, such as ArcSoft Print Creations to do fun photo projects. While the software installation offers the choice for a direct connect or a network connection, I chose the direct USB connection.

Software Installation

When I switched to wireless, I started to read the instructions to set it up on my wireless network. They seemed daunting; because I needed to locate a number of router settingsóbut it turns out, I didn't need to fuss with my router admin page at all. I simply plugged in an Ethernet cord, and my iMac recognized the printer immediately. My older PowerBook G4 required a driver download, but once installed, it also saw the networked printer with no problem. I tested the printer with Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard, and ran into no problems.

Epson Stylus NX515

Fast Printer

The Epson Stylus NX515 quickly prints or copies color or black text. The specs state it can do either at 36 pages per minute, and while I didnít have a stopwatch, I thought it printed everything quickly. When it first grabs paper the noise can be almost startling and it is a little loud when printing, but the thicker the paper the less noise I heard. The quiet mode option didnít affect the noise level at all. I tested it with regular 20lb paper, plus a variety of photo stock. The paper feed mechanism feels flimsy, so when you insert the paper position it carefully, otherwise it may not pull the paper through straight.

Photo Printer

This is also a photo printer and its 4-ink cartridges include cyan, magenta, yellow and black, but I found that only my best high-resolution shots with simple color schemes printed well. It doesn't catch minute detail and subtle color shifts, but in general my photo prints looked good enough to pass around and generate compliments at a party. Graphics, such as cartoons or clip art print just fine. I tested the printer using Photoshop, Word, TextEdit, FileMaker, and Safari and experienced no problems. I also printed photo cards with impressive results in such an inexpensive printer.

The fast drying ink allows you to do two-sided prints without any waiting. Although you have to manually feed the paper back into the printer, this saves on paper and I used the feature many times. One note of caution, do let your photos dry for a minute or two before handling them, or you may watermark them with your thumbprint. The software alerts you when your ink is running low or if there is a paper jam. Epsonís good dialogs are easy to understand.

Out of Paper Dialog

Memory Cards and USB Sticks

The built-in memory card reader slots accept almost every card made, and with the big movable LCD display, it is easy to choose which shots to print without turning on your computer. You can even do some cropping and minor editing straight from the display options in the LCD. I also plugged in a USB stick and was impressed it found photos buried 5 folders deep. I chose the prints to make by date and create a number of borderless prints; all from the LCD.

I really liked the feature in which I could print an Index Sheet directly from a memory card, mark the photos I wanted to print, then put the sheet into the copier/scanner and print those selected shots. This feature isnít available from a USB stick though.

Index Sheet Sample (Scanned)

When using the Index Sheet feature, you donít have as much control over the printing process, as the options available in Epsonís print software, but itís very convenient. It did clip a couple of my photos; such as my seagull missing half its head and a clipped wing in a dragonfly shot. Otherwise, the feature worked fine. In the Epson Print dialog on the computer, you can automatically color adjust your photo or brighten it up with the Digital Camera Correction checkbox.

Print Dialog

Copy and Scan Functions

You can make up to 99 copies with a push of a button, plus reduce and enlarge those copies. I copied a number of documents and they all printed well, but scanning didn't go as smoothly. The scanning software is similar to the software that came with my old scanner. It includes Full Auto Mode or Professional Mode. In order to scan the Index Sheet above, I had to switch to Professional Mode, because in Auto Mode, it only scanned one line at a time; that was odd.

Scan Auto Mode

The scanner offers an optical resolution of 2400 dpi, with 48-bit color, but 24-bit output. The software lets you choose some high-end options to enhance your scan, such as dust removal, color restore, and orientation. While the resolution works for many types of everyday scans, I tested it with some old photos to see how well the color restoration options worked at 300dpi. That test didnít do very well, but my photo was almost 100 years old.

Custom Scan Options

The scan preview came up fast, and it scanned faster than my Epson Perfection 3200, but the quality and color correction was poor. Admittedly, I pushed the scannerís capabilities, but scanning of most photos did not yield the quality I want. Document scanning worked much better. The trick is to always use 2400 dpi scanning, but that creates larger files.

Custom Scan Restore

Wrestling with the Stars

The Stylus NX515 comes with the needed ink cartridges, software, and power cord. You must supply the USB and Ethernet cables. Originally, this printer sold for $129.99, which is fair when you consider all the included features. Yet, the printer feels so flimsy, I think it is overpriced and warrants 3.5 stars. At the current $80 price though, Iíll up it to a 4-star rating. I was impressed with how many photos I printed with the stock cartridges, and liked many of its features. You do have to be careful of the automated media card print function, because of clipping and how you insert the paper, to make sure it feeds correctly.

The most frustrating feature is the location of the USB and Ethernet cord sockets. They are recessed in the back, and almost impossible to see. I had to use a flashlight to plug in the cords. To its credit, this 15.2 lb took a nosedive off a 3-foot table while I was wrestling with the cords, and suffered no injuries. The paper catch tray snapped off, but snapped back on easily, and the printer still works great, so it is not as frail as I thought.
Prints quickly. Lightweight.
Easy to network.
Fast drying ink.
Built-in copier and scanner.
Ability to print directly from Index Sheet.
Reads many types of memory cards and USB sticks.
WIndows 7 compatible. Cons
USB and Ethernet connectors recessed, so use a flashlight to hook up.
Does not scan photos well.
Can be noisy.
Must load paper carefully to prevent crooked prints.