|GadgetScope.com > Computer Hardware > Epson Stylus Photo R200|
|Reviewed 5-8-2004 by John Shirrell - Produced by Epson - List price: $99.99|
Closeup of print quality - Epson Stylus Photo R200
Closeup of print quality - Epson Stylus Photo R800
Closeup of print quality - Epson Stylus Photo 900
Closeup of print quality - HP Photosmart 7550
After posting Epson's R800 review, it came time to review their new value Photo offering, the R200. This printer's design makes it seem like the logical replacement for the Epson Stylus Photo 900. The ink formula is dye-based, just like the 900, and its resolution is practically the same, though double the vertical resolution, as it has double the nozzles. Despite being one of the cheapest photo printers on the market, and absolutely the cheapest to offer CD/DVD printing, the R200 is a very capable tool for any digital photo lab.
The first, most important aspect of the R200 is its photo prints. A few black marks are the lack of a convenient photo paper tray for loading of 4x6 or similar size photos; instead the input tray must be emptied and adjusted when switching to photos. The higher density of nozzles delivers a very smooth print, and despite having double the droplet size of the R800, there is noticeably less grain than there was from any other printer reviewed here. The prints did come out lighter and less crisp than from the R800 and the Photo 900, but that issue could be resolved with fine tuning in Epson's driver. Epson printers all benefit from an advanced driver interface that allows color adjustment and similar tweaks. The pictures will fade sooner than UltraChrome prints, but Epson paper does resist fading well and also resists water.
Ink economy for this printer is impressive as well. The ink cartridges have been consistently slow to drain throughout testing, and their cost is in the teens for each color (six separate tanks). If you let the printer sit unused for periods of time you can expect to spend a cartridge or two worth of ink just cleaning the mechanical print head out of dry ink. Epson printers, particularly the lower-end ones, have stubbornly cloggable print heads.
CD/DVD printing, which we have come to expect from Epson's photo printers, is improved over the Photo 900. The tray loads in front - though note, there still must be adequate clearance behind the printer for it to feed the tray back - and fits into a groove to prevent crooked alignment. The sharpness of a CD print is satisfactory, but far from professional quality. The darker the print, the more likely it is to smudge. CDs printed by the R200 are not water resistant, so one could expect the design to be ruined by just one cleaning. The CD prints are certainly more durable than those produced by the R800, but Epson still needs some work on the interaction between the inkjet printable CD surface and its ink to prevent water and smudging from ruining the print.
The speeds for the R200 were not much improved from the Photo 900. The warm up time varies from 90 seconds to two minutes, then it prints at 9ppm black draft text with a "venetian blind" look. Acceptable quality black text prints at only 2ppm, and acceptable quality color webpage prints at 1.5ppm. A best quality 4x6 takes two and a half minutes, and a CD takes three minutes.
The R200 is a powerful photo printer for the price. It certainly lacks features like memory card readers, direct photo printing, roll paper, a photo paper tray, and high speed USB. However for users on a budget, this printer could substitute for much more expensive solutions and still produce a pleasing print. Longevity of the prints is anyone's guess, but Epson has improved its paper to last longer than generic photo papers.