Epson Stylus Photo 780The 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 low.
How do you know the ink levels are too low? The printer "popup" panel always tells you the status of the ink cartridges. It also has a progress bar across the top to graphically show you where you are in the print job. 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 put the partially-used new one back in again.
You can even retrieve the information about your ink cartridges, their type and manufacture date.
As with all of the Epson Stylus Photo printers, the 780 has both a color cartridge and a black cartridge. There is no "swapping" necessary when you go from a photo printing job to printing regular text or mixed text and graphics pages. The color cartridge is the T008201 (same as T008) and contains cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta and yellow ink chambers.
The user controls on the 780 are very minimal. On the top is the paper thickness lever which stays on the "0" setting unless printing envelopes or very thick paper stock. On the front are three buttons, the top one is the power switch. The center button is the "maintenance" button and it can be used to clear paper jams or initiate a printer self-test (when disconnected from computer). The bottom button is used replace the ink cartridges. When the red LED light is blinking it means one of the ink cartridges is low, use the Utility function of the printer driver to display the ink levels in the cartridges to determine which one to replace.