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Epson Stylus Photo R800

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Epson’s Stylus Photo R800 ink-jet printer features a new version of the company’s popular UltraChrome ink, which uses red and blue in place of light magenta and light cyan to increase the gamut , or range, of color that it can reproduce.

Test prints from the R800 had brighter primary colors than prints from my $699 Stylus Photo 2200 (   ; October 2002 ) and $1,795 Stylus Pro 4000 (   ; June 2004 ) printers.

The R800 uses a minuscule 1.5-picoliter print head. This allows a much smaller drop of ink to be placed on the paper, giving the prints a smoother look than previous models could achieve.

Epson refers to the R800 as a six-color, eight-channel printer because in addition to five color cartridges, there are also a matte-black ink, a photo-black ink, and a gloss enhancer that you can switch on or off via the print driver. The paper profile you select will determine whether the R800 chooses the photo-black or the matte-black ink. The gloss enhancer, which you can choose in the Print dialog box, imparts a dull-varnish-like appearance to your final print; it pro-vides extra protection but requires a few extra minutes to dry.

An 8.5-by-11 image took three minutes to print in the highest-quality Photo RPM (Resolution Performance Management) mode, which is best reserved for your highest-resolution photos. Photo, the second-best quality mode, gives away little in print quality but requires only about a minute to print the same 8.5-by-11 image using a USB 2.0 port. The R800 can print 17 pages per minute in text-only mode with nearly laser-printer quality.

You can achieve the maximum print speed using the FireWire port, which will print about 15 percent faster than the USB 2.0 port. And the R800 is whisper quiet.

Test prints made at the maximum resolution (5,760 by 1,440 dpi) revealed almost no dot pattern even when viewed with a 10x loupe. Test prints made on the R800 were brighter and more saturated than prints from the Stylus Photo 2200, and the gray-scale reproduction was neutral. This excellent output was easy to achieve; with Epson paper and profiles, my first test print was perfect.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The Epson Stylus Photo R800 could be the only photo printer you’ll ever need. It’s fast and quiet and produces beautiful, dot-free prints. It even prints on recordable CDs and DVDs. I wish they made a large-format model.

Epson Stylus Photo R800
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