Posts Tagged ‘testing’

The Stylus Pro 3800: Still the king

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

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).
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Canon cost per print data from Red River

Monday, August 4th, 2008

We recently noted Red River Paper’s ink cartridge testing for the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Photo R1900 printers. These tests attempt to come up with a real-world cost-per-page metric for inkjet cartridges—which is one of the hottest topics in the world of photo printing—and they’re great data points to have when you’re evaluating printers.

Over the weekend, Red River’s Drew Hendrix posted their latest results, covering Canon’s Pixma Pro9500 and Pixma Pro9000 inkjets. Their results show that the dye-based Canon Pixma Pro9000 offers roughly the same cost per print as the pigment-based R1900, while the Pixma Pro9500 has a slightly better cost per print than Epson’s R2400. (The Stylus Photo R2880, which was introduced in June, is probably much closer to the 9500 in cost per print, based on our tests, which use the same test image and similar methodology to Red River’s.)

We’re currently testing the HP B8850 with some slightly different methodology, but one that we hope will give us slightly more accurate results. Stay tuned—we think this is pretty important stuff.

Red River ink life testing

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Following up on our recent post concerning ink cartridge life, Red River Paper, one of our favorite paper companies, has posted some similar test results regarding Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900 and Stylus Photo R2400 printers. They used the same test image and similar measurement techniques to come up with a cost per print for images printed at 4" by 6", 5" by 7", 8" by 10", 11" by 14" and 13" by 19". They also work a bit deeper on trying to define a metric for something they call “Cartridge Equivalent Usage,” or CEU.

This report addresses concerns and arguments about the true cost of ink in desktop photo printing. Using the Epson R2400 and Epson R1900, we conducted a series of print tests to determine how much ink is used in a full coverage 8”x10” print. From that figure we extrapolated ink usage per square inch. The objective is to share a realistic cost per print vision with inkjet users. The choice to pursue photo inkjet printing is in the end an individual economic choice.

We think this is pretty important stuff, and it’s good to see others working on similar tests — the data regarding the R1900 is especially welcome, and it looks like Red River’s results on the R2400 are very similar to ours, which speaks well to this style of test’s repeatability. If you’re interested in this topic, it’s worth going through the report.

Based on some of the comments we’ve received, we think there are a few tweaks we can make to get the test methodology a bit more secure, and be extended to HP and Canon printers. Stay tuned.

Measuring ink cartridge life in the real world

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

One of the things that caused some chatter on the Web in our first look last week at Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880 was the following statement:

“in our initial testing, we were able to print nearly twice as many photos using the same amount of ink on R2880 as we were able to do with the R2400.”

Our results — which were based on observations from our second round of installed ink cartridges — weren’t done with any specific methodology in place. It was based on our general performance testing, alongside standard print quality test prints that we generally use. Since then, our initial findings haven’t held up, and while we stand by what we saw in that specific round of printing, it was obvious that we needed to look at this issue a bit deeper.

In the past week, we have spent a fair amount time trying to come up with some type of test methodology to give a realistic sense of ink usage on the new printer. This week we ran some initial tests, and we’ve gotten some interesting data, but this is an issue bigger than the R2880. We wanted to share our results as a starting data point for a wider discussion of ink yield in photo printers.
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