- The Stylus Pro 4900, a 17-inch printer incorporating the 11-ink UltraChrome HDR ink set found in the Stylus Pro 7900 (Printerville review);
- The Epson Stylus Pro 7890 and 9890, updated versions of their 24- and 44-inch printers, respectively, which incorporate the 8-color UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta inksets, and are priced at $3,000 and $5,000; and
- The Stylus Pro 7900CTP, a 24-inch, computer-to-plate, version of the Stylus Pro 7900 that produces aluminum lithographic printing press plates that can “produce up to 20,000 impressions each with image quality that’s superior to polyester solutions available today.”
More than a decade ago, I tested Epson’s first wide-format, photographic-quality, inkjet printer, the Stylus Pro 9000. At the time, there were a number of companies that offered wide-format proofers and signage printers, and the 9000 competed well in that space, but Epson was as interested in the nascent fine-art printing market, which was dominated largely by Scitex’s Iris printers.
Today, the Scitex and Iris lines are long gone, having ultimately been subsumed by Kodak, and Epson dominates the high end of the fine-art and photographic printing market, despite half-hearted attempts by HP and Canon. The company’s latest wide-format printers, the Stylus Pro 7900 (24") and 9900 (44"), represent a gradual, deliberate evolution of the line, not a sharp detour. Over eight months of testing the 7900, I found few surprises (good or bad), but that’s to be expected in a product line with more than 10 years of development (and success). What I did find, is a printer that is at the top of the heap with regard to photo quality, performance and paper handling, with a handful of negative issues that will matter only to few people. (While I did not test the 9900, most of my comments will apply to the wider model.)
|Stylus Pro 7900/9900 specifications|
|Type||Wide-format, pigment-based inkjet|
|Inks||11 UltraChrome HDR (10 printing)|
|Ink colors||Photo Black, Matte Black, Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Vivid Magenta, Orange, Green, Light Black, Light Light Black|
|Ink cartridge costs||$90 (150ml); $160 (300ml); $280 (700ml)|
|Ink cost per ml (est.)||$0.60 (150ml); $0.54 (300ml); $0.40 (700ml)|
|Maximum resolution||2880 by 1440 dpi|
|Minimum paper size||8.27" by 11"|
|Maximum paper size||24"/44" wide; length variable by operating system|
|Thick paper support||Yes|
|Straight path||Yes; media up to 1.5mm thick|
|Interfaces||USB 2.0; 10/100Base-T Ethernet|
|Operating systems supported||Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7; Mac OS X (10.4.9 and up)|
|Weight||187 lbs./256 lbs.|
|Dimensions (W, D, H)||54" x 27" x 48"|
In my Stylus Photo R2880 review, one of the biggest questions I get is not about the quality of the printer, or even comparisons with HP and Canon printers in the same price range. No, it is: “How does it compare with Epson’s Stylus Pro 3800?”
This is understandable: while the R2880 is a very good printer, it does suffer from a few issues, notably the smaller ink tanks and the necessity to swap the matte and photo black ink cartridges when you want to move between matte and glossy papers. The 3800 also requires a switch, but the process is automatic and requires no user intervention. The 3800 does waste a few dollars of ink per switch, which is troublesome, but given the rarity with which people change paper type—and its high-capacity (80ml) cartridge size, this is a lesser issue for many pro users.
Right now, the Stylus Pro 3800 is under $1,200 at Amazon (a savings of $100 or so), while the R2880 is priced around $650 ($150 off the list price). If you’re looking at the two printers, how do you choose between the two? I think it’s pretty straightforward: what follows are some of my thoughts, based on fairly heavy usage of both printers (and nearly every other photo printer in the $300 to $5,000 price range).
Epson America today formally announced the Stylus Pro 7900 and Stylus Pro 9900 wide-format inkjet printers, which were originally announced outside the U.S. in May (click here for our original item on the printers).
The 7900 and 9900, which have maximum print widths of 24 inches and 44 inches, respectively, use Epson’s new 10-color UltraChrome HDR inkset, which adds two new ink colors—orange and green—designed to give the printers the widest possible gamut available in inkjet printing today. According to the company, the new inkset, in conjunction with improved screening algorithms, will produce “greatly enhanced photographic print quality with exceptionally fine photographic blends.”
Both units incorporate a 10-channel micropiezo printhead with an ink-repelling coating (also found in the Stylus Photo R1900 and R2880) designed to reduce clogs and improve ink efficiency. The 10-channel head also lets you switch on the fly between matte and photo black inks.
Another first for Epson is the inclusion of an optional spectrophotometer from X-Rite, the SpectroProofer, designed to provide a streamlined color-management process for prepress and proofing situations.
The Epson Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 will be available in November for $3,995 and $5,995 respectively. We hadn’t received pricing for the optional spectrophotometer at press time; we’ll pass that information along as we receive it.
Epson is billing the 7900 and 9900 printers as the ultimate inkjet printers for packaging, signage, and other commercial applications, as well as the top-of-the-line photographic printer on the market today. From the limited number of prints we’ve been able to see, we think that the company has once again taken a leap ahead of the competition in terms of print quality and performance. We’re hoping to get our hands on a unit to test: we’ll keep you posted.
Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880, an $800 large-format (13") printer, enters a vastly different printer market than that of its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400. When the R2400 debuted in 2005, Epson owned all aspects of the archival photo printer market, and the R2400’s only real competition was the model it replaced, the Stylus Photo 2200. The R2880, however, joins a market crowded by competitors from HP and Canon, as well as Epson itself: there are now five large-format, pigment-based photo printers priced between $500 and $1,000, and Epson’s competitors have done a superb job of catching up to their longtime rival’s print quality. There are many observers who believe that Epson still has the edge in quality, but there’s no disputing that HP and Canon have put themselves into the game, HP with the Photosmart Pro B8850 (and its older sibling, the B9180) and Canon with the Pixma Pro9500. How does the R2880 match up? Read on.
|Stylus Photo R2880 specifications|
|Type||B-size pigment-based inkjet|
|Inks||9 UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta (8 printing)|
|Ink colors||Photo Black, Matte Black, Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Vivid Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black|
|Ink cartridge cost||$13.29 (replacement cost: $119.61 for all 9 inks)|
|Ink cost per ml (est.)||$1.16|
|Maximum resolution||5760 by 1440 dpi|
|Minimum paper size||4" by 6"|
|Maximum paper size||13" by 44"|
|Thick paper support||Yes|
|Straight path||Yes, for media up to 1.3mm thick|
|Interfaces||USB 2.0 (2); Pictbridge|
|Operating systems supported||Windows XP, Vista; Mac OS X (10.3.9 and up)|
|Dimensions||24.3" x 12.7" x 8.4"|
|Other features||Roll support; CD printing tray; dual USB interfaces allow two computers to be connected to printer simultaneously|
Epson has announced two new all-in-one photo inkjet printers, the Artisan 700 (Amazon link) and Artisan 800 (Amazon), that offer print, scan and copy functionality and built-in wireless and Ethernet connectivity.
The new printers, which are priced at $300 (Artisan 800) and $200 (700), are six-color inkjets (with individual ink tanks) using Epson’s Claria dye-based inks. Other features include:
- dual paper trays, one for paper up to 8.5" by 14", the other for 4" by 6" and 5" by 7" photo paper;
- integrated tray for printing on optical media (printable CDs and DVDs);
- built-in card readers for most popular formats (CompactFlash, SD, xD-PictureCard, Memory Stick);
- significant PC-free printing features, including photo restoration, customized photo layouts, photo notepaper, and school project items;
- scanning to computer, memory card or USB-based flash drive.
We’re continuing to work on our full review of Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880, which we hope to have online in the next week or so. In the interim, we have been able to finish our benchmarking of the new inkjet, comparing it with its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400, and the two semi-pro printers closest to the R2880 in fighting weight: HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 and Canon’s Pixma Pro9500.
We know that speed is usually a secondary or even a tertiary consideration when looking at photo printers, but, with today’s increased competition, it can be a factor for some people when they’re choosing an inkjet. Below are two charts, noting the print speeds for six different print sizes, ranging from 4" by 6" to 12" by 18" on the R2880 and the other three printers.
At the Drupa trade show in Germany this week, Epson announced two new wide-format printers, the Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900. The new printers, which have a maximum print width of 24" and 44",respectively, incorporate a new pigment-based ink set, called UltraChrome HDR. The HDR inks include photo and matte black inks, light black, light light black, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, orange and green, and use an 11-channel head that switches automatically between photo and matte black.
Ink cartridge size (a hot topic these days) is quite large — 350ml and 750ml — and Epson claims that the 7900 and 9900 offer significant speed improvements over the existing Epson wide format devices.
Also notable in the new printers is an optional built-in spectrophotometer from X-Rite, called the Epson SpectroProofer, which provides “automatic color measurement data to the printer, allowing user profiling and linearization, enabling professional color management while at the same time reducing labor costs.”
The Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 are expected to ship this spring in Europe and Australia, although pricing was not announced. Epson America representatives stressed that this announcement was made by Epson Europe, although we would assume that ultimately the new printers and inks would reach the U.S. and Canada at some point not long after they ship elsewhere.
[Source: Print21, an online publication produced by the Australian trade association, Printing Industries.]
Epson today announced the Stylus Photo R2880, the long-awaited replacement to the Stylus Photo R2400. The $800 printer, slated to ship in June, is a B-size (13") inkjet that uses pigment-based inks, including two light-density black inks designed to produce optimal black-and-white prints on all types of media. And, while the R2880’s pedigree shows a clear link to the R2400, the new model takes advantage of Epson’s recent technology advancements from both the higher-end Stylus Professional printer line and the recently released Stylus Photo R1900.
Macworld recently posted our reviews of two letter-size, all-in-one photo inkjets: HP’s Photosmart C7280 and Epson’s Stylus Photo RX680. While neither of those printers would be considered “pro-level,” they are both a good value for what they are: six-color photo printers that do additional duty as general-purpose printers and scanners/copiers. (While the reviews are understandably Mac-centric, we’ve tested both printers on Windows-based systems as well.)
Photosmart C7280: bargain utility printer with big features
The C7280 lists for $300, but you can find it on Amazon right now for $165 (with free shipping). At that price, it’s a very good buy, with multiple connectivity options (802.11n wireless, Ethernet, USB); a built-in duplexer; secondary tray for 4" by 6" and 5" by 7" photo paper; and a sheet feeder for the copier. We had a couple of minor issues with the wireless networking, but once you have it up and running, it’s a great general-purpose inkjet printer. And, if you use it wirelessly, you can still scan directly to computers on your network that have the HP driver software installed. This is a great feature, one we’ve found extremely helpful in the months we’ve been using the printer.