Epson’s latest six-color photo printer, the Stylus Photo 900, gives you a lot of bang for your buck, with the same excellent photo-quality printing and semiarchival inks as the rest of the Epson Stylus Photo line, as well as the ability to print on specially prepared CDs and DVDs. At $199, it’s an inexpensive, high-quality tool for people who need to print more than the usual documents.
Which isn’t to say that this printer isn’t good for printing documents: the Stylus Photo 900 has a maximum resolution of 5,760 by 720 dpi and pro-duces clear images. And if you’ve seen prints from other recent Epson photo printers, you know what to expect from the 900: prints with such excellent reproduction and color fidelity that they look as if they had been printed at a photo lab. And when you use certain Epson paper, you get prints with an estimated archival life span (that is, the amount of time during which your prints will show little fading or discoloration) of 27 years, which is better than some photographic processes.
But the real draw is what the Stylus Photo 900 can do in addition to printing on paper. Allowing you to print directly onto CDs and DVDs, the Stylus Photo 900 eliminates the hassle and expense of printing labels. You can buy printable CDs and DVDs from just about any store that sells recordable media. In general, prices for name-brand printable CDs are pretty much the same as prices for nonprintable CDs.
To print on a CD or DVD, you load the disc into a special carrier, which you feed into the printer’s straight-through paper path. You’ll need at least a couple of feet behind the printer to load the media tray, so if you plan on doing a lot of disc printing, you won’t be able to position this printer against a wall.
Magic Mouse Productions Discus EP for OS X is included with the printer; it provides a rich assortment of CD-labeling tools in an easy-to-use interface. Discus lets you import bitmapped artwork, and it provides text tools that can automatically generate curved text that perfectly fits the radius of a disc. You can, of course, print from any graphics program, but you’ll need to build a template to get your image properly positioned on the disc.
Printing a CD or DVD label takes longer than printing on normal paper, and don’t expect glossy results. Though its images are a little undersaturated, the 900 still delivers high-resolution, photo-quality prints on either white or metallic-finish discs. We were very impressed with the results, which looked much better than some of the silk-screening techniques used on commercial CDs.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you regularly need to create high-quality CD or DVD labels, you won’t find a better printer for this price. Offering Epson’s exceptional six-color technology, excellent bundled software, and easy media handling, the Stylus Photo 900 is a very good value.