Orange Shift & Buy-Back Info9/9/00 update: The "orange shift" and fading problems continue with the 1270, 870 and 875DC printers and it doesn't seem to be confined to those using only the Premium Glossy Photo paper. Epson-USA and most other Epson branches are now instituting a buy-back program for the printers, paper and other consumables. Epson-USA also has a one year grace period to receive a refund or participate in the buy-back program. For lots, and I do mean LOTS more info on this problem please visit the following web site:
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The Epson Stylus Photo 1270, the smaller format Stylus Photo 870 and the Stylus Photo 875DC printers represent the absolute best in current inkjet photo printing technology at the time of this writing.
Every year Epson brings out a new line of printers and each year they get better. I can't imagine what they will do next year to top these printers because they already produce the same photo quality as prints made in color photo labs.
The difference between the models is the Stylus Photo 1270 has a wide carriage and accepts paper stock up to 13-inches in width and 44-inches in length. The Stylus Photo 870 and 875DC are both 8.5-inch width printers. The 875DC has a PCMCIA slot for flash memory cards and can be used as a card reader in conjunction with your computer. The 875DC only has a USB port, the 1270 and 870 have both parallel and USB ports. All three printers feature the same basic print engine with an amazing 4-picoliter variable size ink droplet that gives you about twice the tonal range of any other inkjet. The 1270 also uses a larger capacity color ink cartridge.
I have owned (and practically worn out) the original Stylus Photo printer and then a Stylus Photo EX printer so I think I know my Epsons about as well as anyone. The first 8x10" print that I produced with the new 1270 literally blew my socks off. I have thirty-some years behind me a pro and semi-pro photographer and the last prints I remember looking like these were made in the darkroom using the Cibachrome process. The new Epson glossy photo paper looks and feels like real photo paper and has a smooth, high-gloss finish. No more orange peel surface paper. And as far as I have (not) seen, no more "pizza wheel" tracking problems either.
10 to 26 Year Lightfast Properties
Besides true photographic quality prints, the new printers when used with the Epson ink and papers now have the same archival properties of wet-processed prints.
Wilhelm Research has certified the lightfast properties of Epson's heavyweight matte paper prints at an incredible 24-26 years and the glossy photo paper prints are rated at 9-10 years. This is a far cry from the 12-30 months for the previous inks and papers. I know, I have some well-faded inkjet prints in my living room that have been exposed to plenty of ambient Florida sunlight thanks to a pair of four-foot sliding glass doors.
Mechanics & Performance
In operation the first thing that I noticed was a lack of noise, in fact I had to look at the printer to make sure it was actually printing. The new printers only generate about half the noise of the old ones, most noticeably absent is the "slapping" sounds of the head carriage as it reaches the right and left extremes. The typical Epson "pump up" cycle when the printer is powered on is still there but it too is much quieter. Physically, the 1270 is a little bit wider than the Photo EX but not by much. The new printers have a much more sculptured look to them with lots of rounded corners and a somewhat curved paper support.
I'm not one who cares much about looks, give me performance any day, and the new Epsons deliver the performance. I'd sum it up as quiet and fast as the new 1270 prints at least 40-50% faster that the Photo EX. It cranks out 4x6" prints faster than a Polaroid camera, how about 50 seconds! Dazzling 8x10-inch prints are completed in around 2 minutes and 11x14-inch prints take about four minutes. Of course for the absolute ultimate in detail you can turn off the high speed option and the printout times will be doubled.
To insure complete cross-platform compatibility the 1270 and 870 printers are equipped with both bi-directional parallel and high-speed USB ports. When used with a Windows PC you can use either port and the USB can be used with the macintosh computers. Epson has an Axis 1440 print server that allows the printer to be a true resource on an ethernet network.
The only problem so far has been getting all the parts and pieces. I am still
waiting for the roll paper holder for the 1270 even though I already have five
boxes of the paper. The folks at Epson Supplies emailed me to let me know that
the roll paper holder would be available by May 31 for $39. This kind of ticked
me off as the roll paper holder is included with the less expensive 870 but it's
an option with the 1270. When using the four inch wide roll paper you can print
edge to edge for borderless 4x6-inch prints just like you get from the color lab.
The New "Smart" Cartridges
The new Epson ink cartridges are "smart" -- they have a computer chip in them to
keep track of the ink useage. This means that a partially-used
cartridge can be removed and then replaced in the printer without confusing the
ink level readouts in the printer driver. This can be extremely handy if you're
getting ready to print a 44-inch panorama print and you know the ink levels are too
How do you know the ink levels are too low? Just use the status monitor, you'll find it on the Utility menu. As you can see, it actually tells you how many pages it can print with the ink remaining in the cartridge.
Pop in a new cartridge, make the print and then put the old cartridge back
in and use it until it's empty and then stick the partially used new one back in.
You can even retrieve the information about your ink cartridges, their type
and manufacture date.
And changing ink cartridges has never been easier, now there's a big yellow button above the regular controls that is visible once the cover is lifted. All you do is push the yellow button and wait for the carriage to move over to the left.
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