Epson Stylus C40UX Standard Inkjet Printer

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Slow, but works (usually)

Dec 24, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Ease of Use:
  • Paper Handling:

Pros:Great Linux support. Cheap ink cartridges. Reasonable (but not great) print quality.

Cons:Slow, clogs easily, lousy paper handling

The Bottom Line: Too slow for use as a primary printer, but works well with Linux and is a reasonable second printer for occasional color printing.


I needed an inexpensive second printer that would print color pictures and work with Linux. That restricts me to Epson and HP ink jet printers. I looked at the ink cartridges, and the ink cartridges for the C40UX were cheap and available for less than half the price of the HP ink cartridges. I also found that the gimp-print drivers for Linux worked better for the Epson than they did for the HP. So I got the Epson.

The Linux support is as good as advertised. Everything you can do under Windows can also be done under Linux, including support for all printer resolutions, nozzle cleaning, and ink level status reporting. So on that basis I'm happy.

Ah yes, ink level status reporting. I've found out a nice little thing about that. This printer doesn't really have any way of measuring its ink level. The cartridges don't even have any electrical wires going to them, since this was the last of Epson's non-chipped printers. It just guesses, based on how much it's printed. Often the cartridges are still half-full when the thing up and decides that a cartridge is empty. You can fake it out into believing that you switched in a new cartridge by pressing the button to move the cartridge to the "change" area, then pressing the little lever behind the cartridge as if you just lifted the arm and then lowered the arm. It then happily believes you put in a full cartridge, and will continue printing with it until it's *really* empty. (Note: Do *NOT* remove cartridges then put them back in, this lets air into the bottom of the cartridge and it won't work anymore).

One of the real bummers about this printer -- and Epson printers in general -- is nozzle clogs. Epsons are electrostatic vs. thermal (steam) as used by HP and other vendors, so the ink droplets don't have a lot of force behind them. They go astray sometimes and build up around the outsides of the nozzles. After a while the "clean nozzles" function won't work anymore (the "fresh" ink gets stuck up in all the built-up gunk), and you have to take the printer apart and run a Windex-saturated paper towel under the nozzles to clean the gunk out from around them (note: don't blame me if your printer doesn't work after you do this, there's detailed directions for doing this out on the WWW with the exact surgical prescription, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart). Once the gunk is cleaned off the "clean nozzles" function works again, but it's definitely a pain.

Regarding print quality, on the lowest/fastest setting, it sucks. Printing is blurry, photos are laughably inept. You can change the settings and even get the top resolution on plain ink jet paper (i.e., not the glossy), but it then becomes VERY slow and drinks ink. It prints the top resolution a little faster on the glossy photo paper (on the non-glossy paper it makes more passes to give the ink time to dry so that it doesn't saturate the paper), but you're still talking about pages per hour, not pages per minute (I doubt it'd do ten pages per HOUR at the top resolution, nevermind the advertised ten pages per MINUTE which is utter nonsense). The regular resolution is usable for normal correspondence, but if you have fine detail (e.g. USGS maps), it just isn't good enough. The top resolution is still not as good as the top resolution on other low-cost printers I've used (such as the Lexmark printers), though it is passable for anything except highly-detailed photos.

Regarding paper handling, I've had problems with that when the rollers got dusty. Paper double-feeds, or refuses to feed at all. Blowing the printer out with the canned air stuff solves that problem for a time, but the paper just kind of flops on that curved guard, it's not a great paper handling system. Turning on the ceiling fan makes the paper flop all the way off the back of the printer, something that's not true for other low-cost ink jet printers that I've used.

All that aside, I'm happy with the printer. For what I use this printer for -- printing out USGS maps from time to time from Windows and, from Linux, the occasional letter with graphics that doesn't print well on my Samsung laser printer -- it's a reasonable printer. But if you are buying a printer as your one and only printer, I suggest you get a better printer. If the C40UX was my only printer, I'd be very unhappy indeed. It's just too darned slow on any usable resolution.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 49
Operating System: Linux


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