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-- by Joel T. Patz
You may be paying fewer visits to the photo-processing shop. Epson's new Stylus models keep setting new standards, and the Epson Stylus Photo is the best photo printer we've seen-with unsurpassed purity and color saturation.
Using the Micro Piezo ink jet printing technology common to other models in the Epson Stylus line, the Stylus Photo can print up to 720x720dpi using one black cartridge ($23.50 for an estimated 540 pages at 5 percent coverage) and one five-color cartridge (cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta and yellow; $23.50 for an estimated 190 pages at 15 percent coverage). Printing on anything from plain paper and Epson's Photo-Quality ink jet paper (which we used) to transparencies and iron-on transfer paper, the Stylus Photo printed our 8-by-6.25-inch bitmapped image in 6 minutes, 6 seconds at 720x720dpi. Using Epson's glossy paper ($31.99 for 15 sheets), the same image took 3 minutes, 4 seconds. The results are dramatic.
The driver's AcuPhoto halftoning accounts for the stunningly accurate flesh tones we saw in our sample images. With Epson's print head and inks, it's virtually impossible to see any small dots in the output. Nor is there any misting or splatter. Gradients are smooth and rich; tones are vibrant and continuous. Even tricky colors like gold and bright red came out looking great. The QuickDry inks did, indeed, come out dry and smudge-free.
You get quick access to quality settings and media type via the driver, or you can adjust colors, brightness, contrast and saturation using slider bars. When printing, an on-screen display tracks ink supply and the print job's progress.
Like the other new Epson Stylus Color family members, the Stylus Photo offers true black and excellent color on a variety of media. While the Stylus Photo can accommodate envelopes and 100 sheets of letter, legal, A4 and B5 paper, as well as special media, it's best suited to photo-quality images and presentation material.
After an effortless setup, the Stylus Photo, at 12.2 by 16.9 by 24.1 inches (with trays extended) and 11.5 pounds, operated quietly.
Outstanding color, trouble-free operation and a two-year limited warranty with toll-free support catapult the Epson Stylus Photo onto our WinList.