The Stylus Color CX4600 is an affordable all-in-one that combines a four-color inkjet printer and a 600ppi scanner in one unit. That price is hard to beat for a general-purpose all-in-one—if you’re willing to settle for slow print speeds and lower resolution scans.
For prints, Epson’s pigment-based DuraBrite inks are, as the name implies, durable. They’re both water- and fade-resistant. And with the new photo paper designed for DuraBrite inks, your glossy photos will look much better than with regular glossy photo paper (which tended to look shiny and metallic in darker areas). Using our standard Macworld Lab test image from PhotoShop, the Epson’s output closely matched our control print, though they were a bit darker. Copies of our standard test image were fairly color accurate, but took on a softer, flatter appearance than the Photoshop prints.
A black and white Microsoft Word document featuring a variety of fonts and text sizes looked good when printed in Fine mode, though not as sharp as a print from a laser printer, and the output was nowhere near as fast. A one-page black and white text document took over a minute and a half in Quality mode and 48 seconds in Speed mode. Clicking the Advanced button in the Print Settings menu of the driver gives you a couple of more options including an Economy mode. I was able to get eight prints out in one minute in the latter—about half of Epson’s 15 page per minute claims.
As for scanning, the CX4600 did well at capturing colors, but the results were noticeably softer than those we got from the recently reviewed Epson Perfection 4870 Photo. Sure, the 4,800-dpi, 48-bit Perfection 4870 costs about four times as much as the 600-dpi, 24-bit CX4600. But even Epson’s low-end, $99 Perfection 1670 Photo scanner can do 1,600-dpi and 48-bit color. (The CX4600 does scan at 48-bit, but then compresses it to 24-bit before sending the data to your Mac.)
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The CX4600 is a good, general purpose all-in-one that combines four-color, fade- and water-resistant printing and a 600-dpi scanner that can be used as a standalone copier and photo printer. Folks wanting to do serious photo printing or scanning should consider a higher-end all-in-one or separate components.