It's been over three years since we reviewed the Epson Stylus Photo 2200 - and boy, how things have changed! Especially the print speeds ... the Stylus Photo 2200 took 11.5 to 27 minutes to print a borderless 13x19" print at 1440- and 2880-dpi respectively. The new R1800 cranks out a borderless 13x19" print in Best Photo/High Speed quality in just 6 minutes and 15 seconds. The 2200 held 7 ink cartridges and required the gloss and matte black cartridges to be swapped. The R1800 holds 8 ink tanks, both blacks at same time and traded the light cyan and light magenta for new red and blue inks and has dropped the light black altogether. The Borderless option can now be used with Matte and as well as Premium Glossy Photo Paper (PGPP), Premium Semigloss or Premium Luster Photo Paper. And we can't forget the handy CD/DVD printing capability, most people are creating their own photo and data discs and labeling them is still a difficult chore. The 2200 cost about $750 when it came out, the R1800 is more affordably priced at $499.
I have been using Canon printers for the last three or so years and my current printer is the wide carriage Canon i9900. Epson makes a very good printer but before the R800 / R1800 they were simply too slow for my needs. All of the printer manufacturers have been improving and speeding up their printers, Canon has been the undisputed benchmark for speed in the last few years. It's good to see that Epson has significantly improved their print times, especially when making borderless prints. And it's nice to know that your prints will last as long as conventional wet-processed photo prints thanks to its pigmented UltraChrome inks. The R1800 is one of the quietest Epson printers I've ever used, even during "pump up" cycles it's very tolerable.
As with the Stylus Photo 2200, the R1800 can print on a wide variety of media surfaces and thicknesses. Epson is the best choice for the Fine Art digi-photo printers whereas Canon printers favor those who print mostly on glossy or matte media. Another difference is that dye based printers like the Canon are capable of creating more vivid colors. Pigmented inks are noticeably muted in comparison but still produce very natural looking colors. The Stylus Photo R1800, even though it lacks a Light Black ink, is very good at making high quality black & white prints on glossy, matte and fine art media. However, if B&W prints are your main thing, I would recommend the older Stylus Photo 2200 over the R1800.
My testing had the Stylus Photo R1800 connected via its USB 2.0 port to a 4-port USB 2.0 hub on my PC running an Intel Pentium 4/3GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 150GB HD and Windows XP Professional. Photoshop CS was used as the printing application and the timer was started after the printer fed the paper.
Borderless 4x6" PGPP, Photo, High Speed Off - 1:15
Borderless 4x6" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed On - 1:29
Borderless 4x6" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 2:32
Borderless 5x7" PGPP, Photo, High Speed On - 0:55
Borderless 5x7" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed On - 1:45
Borderless 5x7" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 3:05
Borderless 5x7" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed On - 3:30
Borderless 5x7" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed Off - 6:10
Bordered 8.5x11" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed On - 2:42
Bordered 8.5x11" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 4:48
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Photo, High Speed On - 1:29
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Photo, High Speed Off - 2:39
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed On - 3:05
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 5:30
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed On - 6:05
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed Off - 10:55
Borderless 8.5x11" Matte Heavyweight, Best Photo, High Speed On - 2:56
Borderless 8.5x11" Matte Heavyweight, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 5:21
Borderless 13x19" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed On - 6:15
Borderless 13x19" PGPP, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 11:15
Borderless 13x19" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed On - 11:45
Borderless 13x19" PGPP, Photo RPM, High Speed Off - 21:40
Borderless 13x19" Watercolor Radiant White Matte, Best Photo, High Speed On - 6:05
Borderless 13x19" Watercolor Radiant White Matte, Best Photo, High Speed Off - 11:15
CD / DVD PrintingOne of the R1800's unique and highly useful features is the CD/DVD disc printing capability. Most all of us have either a CD or CD/DVD burner these days and it's easy to make the discs but not so easy to label them. There are many different labeling programs and stick-on labels out there but it's a real pain to get those labels properly applied to a disc. Even if you do get them on right, there's no telling if the label will stay on the disc or end up coming off inside of your drive. And with high-speed drives comes another problem, those stick-on labels can actually cause discs to spin in an unbalanced manner and "buzz" inside of the drive. Needless to say, this is not good. The answer is to use inkjet printable CD or DVD media and print your own colorful labels directly on the disc, a task the R1800 does with ease.
The R1800 comes with a special disc carrier that is inserted through the front of the printer. You just push the carrier in until the arrows on each side are aligned and then select the print option from the software. The printer will pull the disc carrier in and out a number of times to insure proper alignment and then starts printing your label. There is a precision alignment adjustment in the software if needed, I printed the disc shown here using the EPSON Print CD's default settings in about one minute. It's fast and easy !
You must use CD and DVD media that is made for inkjet printing, most have a solid white side that is textured to accept the ink, I used the Memorex brand with excellent results. You can use any photo as a background and then add 3-D arched text like I did here. Or you can go as simple or exotic as you want with the design, it's your choice. Unlike other inkjet CD printers that use dye-based inks, the R1800's pigmented inks are more durable and don't run when immersed in water. I was still able to make a mess of the label after dousing the disc in warm water and then running my finger across it.
I recommend using one of the readily available disc overcoat sprays to protect your printed discs. Check out Inkjet CD/DVD Protector Spray in the U.S. for $9.95 (coats 225-275 discs) or Colour Protection Spray if you're in Europe. We've had clear Krylon UV spray available for years and other alternatives can be found at art and photo shops. Just be sure to spray it on right - lay the disc flat and spray sparingly, don't get any of it on the data side of the disc!
Bottom LineThe Epson Stylus Photo R1800 is a fast and versatile wide-carriage photo printer that when used with Epson UltraChrome inks and papers, produces photo lab quality prints that last as long as conventional photo prints. It is capable of printing on a wide range of glossy, semi-gloss, matte and fine art media. It has a top mounted auto sheet feeder for most media, the thicker Velvet Fine Art and Watercolor Paper-Radiant White papers are fed through the rear manual feed slot, one sheet at a time. As seen from our Print Time chart above, the R1800 is a relatively fast printer, capable of making a borderless 4x6" in less than a minute and a large 13x19" glossy print in just over six minutes. In addition to photo prints the R1800 can also make full color photo labels for CD and DVD discs.
We haven't used the R1800 long enough to be able to estimate the approximate "cost per print" but as with all multi-cartridge printers, it can get expensive with the special papers and ink cartridges. The marketing folks like to say that separate ink cartridges are more economical, but they do all have to be replaced eventually and at a cost of about $13.00 each. And those big 13x19" sheets of Premium Glossy Photo Paper are about $3.00 per sheet. Another thing you must consider - exactly how many "large" prints are you going to make? If you're in the photo business then this isn't applicable as it is a necessary tool of your trade. For the home or occassional professional user however it's probably more economical to send those big prints out to be printed by someone else. You can get all the same printing features and longevity with the Epson Stylus Photo R800 narrow-carriage printer and save a couple of hundred dollars.
If you need to make large, professional quality prints then this printer is sure to please. We had no problems printing very acceptable prints "right out of the box" and after a little tweaking the results were simply outstanding. Priced at around $500 USD (currently a $50 rebate is offered) at the time of this review, the Epson Stylus Photo R1800 is a very good value.
UK visitors Epson T0547 Red Cartridge For Photo R800/1800
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