Epson L486 Photo Printer Review – Photo Printing at its Best

Epson’s L-series photo printers have always provided some of the best photo printing at a reasonable price. The L-series range was updated in March 2017 with the release of three new additions in the L382, L386 and L486. I can’t speak much about the naming and numbering conventions of these printers, but with each equipped with Epson’s Ink-Tank System (ITS) you’re guaranteed to get good value for your prints plus of the excellent quality for which the company is known. . Epson supplied us with the L486 inkjet photo printer for a few weeks and I more than happily put it through its paces.

Build and design

As with many, many inkjet printers, the overall design is no different than the average printer. More so, the L486 follows the same basic design with many of its Epson siblings featuring the same multifunctional capabilities. As always, Epson’s ITS stands out from other brands of printers which, despite adding extra bulk, add so much more in terms of value. Looking through previously released L-series printers, the design also follows here. The scanner bed is covered by a thin lid, with a top segment also opening to allow users to see some internals if needed.

Like many higher-end L-series units, the L486 features a “floating” main panel, which can be tilted up or pushed back depending on your preference. This main panel includes a number of buttons, including power, home, navigation, cancel, and maintenance buttons. Most of them are quite self-explanatory and easy to understand and use without the need for the user manual. The panel also includes a 1.45″ color display, which is operated using the navigation buttons.

The L486 includes an SD card slot, the almost mandatory storage medium for many photographers. Looking at the L850, which includes both the SD card slot and USB 2.0 interfaces, I’m a little curious why that wasn’t an option on the L486 as well. I know this can add overhead to the overall costs, but how big would the costs of a USB interface be?

The ITS module, again, is mounted on the right side of the unit, although the connection to the main unit has stabilized somewhat since my last review of the Epson printer, and something I have alluded to previously. Epson, aware of customer feedback and criticism, has therefore made some minor changes to the build quality, which potential buyers might appreciate. With a total weight of 4.5 kg, it is half the weight of the L850. The L486 adds wireless capabilities to its list of additional features, while the L850 has two additional colored inks for better color reproduction on prints (I’ll discuss the comparisons more in the performance section). The L486 does well to reduce the weight by such a substantial amount, even considering the additional ink slots in the reservoir, which wouldn’t make a difference.

Epson L486 Photo Printer Review - Photo Printing at its Best

Install

One of the great characteristics of the modern printer is its efficiency during the configuration phases. Although you still need to do a few checks on first start, you can almost literally finish your first photo print in five minutes, without ever having to set up your PC. Although we always recommend installing the latest drivers and software designed for the specific use of each device, it is not essential in this case, as Windows 10 was able to easily install the required drivers in the background without my intervention. manual.

The only really annoying part of the whole setup process was the input interface on the main panel, which I had to use to connect to my home WiFi. The keyboard interface was rather weird, and almost the opposite in modern keyboards, even on non-touch devices. Once I managed to add the printer to the Wi-Fi network, I was able to print directly from my phone by simply installing the Epson iPrint app. Once installed, I could simply choose the photo I wanted to print, and it would start printing within five seconds. In addition to printing over Wi-Fi using the app, wireless printing also includes support for Epson Connect (iPrint, Email Print), Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Considering the seamless and fast in-app printing over WiFi, I can’t say NFC support is a requirement here.

Epson L486 Photo Printer Review - Photo Printing at its Best

Performance

To cut to the chase when it comes to quality, the L486 delivers truly stunning results on borderless photo prints. It should be noted, however, that good quality paper is essential. I bought three different grades of photo paper in A4 and A5 sizes, one matte, one premium glossy and another more generic glossy photo paper. While the printer offered brilliant and accurate color reproduction on all prints, there were some differences in the quality of the various selected papers when literally put in the spotlight. On the cheaper generic paper, there were four lines on each page, without fail. This may not be noticeable when looking at it normally, but placing it under direct light or any kind of magnification will help you notice it more clearly. All other papers used did not reproduce the results.

Comparing the specs of the L486 with the L850, you will notice a few changes. For starters, the L486 includes 180 nozzles for black, 59 nozzles per color, while the L850 has 90 nozzles for black and 90 nozzles per color. Still having some impressions from the L850 review, I noticed that the L486 had better contrast and much better deep blacks on the darker printer. The reproduction was quite bright on those deep blacks, and I managed to print a few darker posters to test it to the max. Where the L850 stood out, however, was a slightly better color gamut, which had to be compared side-by-side to notice any difference.

Print resolution was the same for both units at 5,760×1,440 DPI, while print speeds varied. Both units stayed within seconds of reproduced real-world speeds when compared to Epson’s factory specs. The L48 achieves speeds of 33 ppm mono (75 gsm plain paper), 15 ppm color (75 gsm plain paper) and 69 seconds per 10 x 15 cm photo (Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper). The L850, on the other hand, does slightly better with 37 ppm Monochrome (plain paper 75 gsm), 38 ppm Color (plain paper 75 gsm) and 12 seconds per 10 x 15 cm photo (Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper). Given the two additional colors added to the ITS on the L850, the results are to be expected.

I put the L486 through a much tougher test after initial and benchmark testing was complete, running up to 20 10x15cm prints at a time, in addition to 10 high-quality A4 prints four times. For the most part, the printer didn’t sweat much, as the steady methodical nature of the printhead moving back and forth didn’t change at all, even after over an hour of printing at some time. On one occasion the printer broke the pattern due to a slight crease in one of the papers that I hadn’t noticed before, which resulted in about a centimeter of print out of sync and a slight arcing effect. in sky. Once the particular photo printed, the printer continued as normal as if nothing strange had happened.

In total, I browsed over 100 different types of prints, from standard to high quality, matte to glossy, premium to generic paper, and A4 to 10x15cm prints. Minus the one irregular print, the L486 actually had over 99% accuracy.

Epson L486 Photo Printer Review - Photo Printing at its Best

Copy and Scan

Let’s not forget that the L486 also offers high quality scanning and copying capabilities via a manual feed flatbed scanner, with 1200×2400 DPI resolution. Users can choose to copy a page via print or saved to SD card. New to the L486 via smartphone app is the ability to scan pages directly to your phone’s storage, while also being able to control copy functionality directly from your phone. The ability to copy pages directly to your smartphone is a great addition and eliminates the need for a PC to transfer a scanned file to the PC and onto your phone, saving you a good few minutes of your time. This addition also means that you no longer really need a PC to use the full MFP suite.

Conclusion

Whether you’re comparing the Epson L486 to the L850 or on its own, it’s capable of withstanding any test you can throw at it. What’s great about the comparison is that it shows the progress made in Epson’s printing division in less than a year since the release of the previously launched L-series units, producing lighter printers and more precise. While the L850 offers the extra inks and DVD printing support, the L486’s lower cost makes it a more attractive purchase. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t used DVDs in over a year and haven’t burned blank DVDs in almost two years.

At an RRP of RRP4,500, the L486 is nearly RRP2,000 more affordable than the L850, with the addition of WiFi printing, better black and white photos, deeper blacks and a much lighter frame , which makes the latter a much better value. offer to buyers.

Elaine F. Brim