Photos, letters, envelopes, stickers, disc labels, packages—who doesn't want to print a little bit of everything? But where to get the desk space for the mountain of new equipment? Epson has the answer with its Stylus Photo R800, a compact, professional-quality 5760x1440dpi inkjet photo printer with flexible paper handling and handy direct-disc labeling capabilities. And with PC and Mac compatibility, the R800 makes a great choice for mixed-platform computing.
Thoughtful design allows the R800 to accommodate standard-thickness cut-sheet paper and business envelopes as well as 4"- and 8.3"-wide roll paper for continuous photos and panoramic images. Borderless printing in select sizes is an added bonus.
The R800 is a true photo printer, so it utilizes a wider assortment of cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, matte black, photo black, red, blue, gloss optimizer) than everyday inkjets. Thus, the unit reproduces a wider color gamut and faithfully renders black-on-matte and gloss stocks while creating more uniform glossy prints. These inks are pigment-based, so, according to the company, prints made on Epson media are lightfast up to 100 years. My evaluation found output quality to be excellent, and it should satisfy most discriminating eyes.
Photo printers typically sacrifice speed for image quality. The R800 is no exception. Generally, marketers like to quote best times, so I was looking for the slowest cases (maximum quality without borders). During testing the unit took 2 minutes and 54 seconds to process and print a 4"x6" photo, 3 minutes and 32 seconds for a 5"x7", and 5 minutes and 30 seconds for an 8"x10". A full page of black 12-point text printed in 33 seconds.
As with other Epson printers that offer direct labeling of inkjet-printable discs, DVDs and CDs are loaded one at a time into the front of the unit using a removable caddy containing a circular depression to hold the disc in position (an adapter is included for 8 cm mini-sized discs).
Overall, I found that the caddy system works reasonably well with disc alignment—much better than early Epson designs (such as the Stylus Photo 960, reviewed in December 2003 EMedia, p. 50). That said, caddies are, admittedly, inherently clumsy, and easily misplaced. They also get dirty hanging around the office.
Disappointingly, business card-shaped disc support is missing, and the included disc-layout application is primitive and out of place with such a professional product.
The R800 measures up to the speed of many dedicated inkjet disc labelers. During testing it took one and a half minutes for the printer to physically load a disc and impart a full surface label. Simple text labels were accomplished in a fraction of that time.
Image quality also proved competitive using standard Verbatim hub-printable DVDs. I also ran some TDK and Maxell "photo quality" DVDs, which yielded results that were crisp, bright, and inviting.
Not the fastest or least expensive printer around, Epson's Stylus Photo R800 is nonetheless a solid choice for professional photographic work with the versatility to handle small disc runs and day-to-day printing chores.
Though it won't set any speed records and costs more than Epson's popular R300 series of printers that combine photo and other paper-printing capabilities with direct CD/DVD disc labeling, Epson's Stylus Photo R800 is nonetheless a solid choice for professional photographic work. It augments consistently high-quality output with the versatility to handle small DVD and CD runs as well as day-to-day printing chores.
For more information, contact:
Epson America www.epson.com
PC: 500MHz Pentium 3 PC running Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP; 128MB RAM (256MB recommended); 200MB free hard drive space; USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394 port; CD or DVD-ROM drive;
Mac: iMac/Power Macintosh G3/PowerBook/iBook running OS 9.2 or OS X 10.1.3; 256MB RAM; 200MB free hard drive space; USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394 port; CD or DVD-ROM drive.