Epson Stylus Photo 925
The Epson Stylus Photo 925 at $249 (as of Jan 2003) is a very versatile and high quality photo printer for the home or small business user. It functions as both a general purpose text and color graphics printer as well as a high-resolution photo printer. Both the PC Windows and Macintosh operating system platforms are well supported via its USB port. The Photo 925 is capable of generating photo-quality prints with or without a computer. In standalone mode it can print directly from the majority of today's flash memory cards and Microdrives, it can also print directly from certain digital cameras via their USB cable. The Photo 925 supports Epson PRINT Image Matching (P.I.M. and P.I.M. II) as well as the new Exif Print standards. You can visit the Epson PIM site for a complete rundown of its features. In a nutshell, the printer takes the exposure information stored in the header of a P.I.M. image and uses this to make the best possible picture, faithfully reproducing the colors, lighting and shadow detail found in the original scene. Color management has always been a big stumbling block in the workflow of the non-professional photo printer and P.I.M. helps to eliminate this problem. Installation and setup on my Windows XP Pro system was quick and painless. You install the software first and then turn the printer on when prompted. After the printer and port are identified the rest of the driver software is installed. It takes longer to complete the ink cartridge "pump up" primer cycle then it does to install the software. The large monochrome LCD information display keeps you abreast of what's going on at all times. There's a moving "gas gauge" display during the primer cycle to let you know how much longer it is going to take to complete. This information display is incredibly helpful when printing in standalone mode and any time you need to change ink cartridges or perform routine maintenance tasks. I did not need to reference the manual, everything I needed to know was displayed on the LCD for me - very handy. Printing in standalone mode is made easier with the addition of the optional color LCD monitor as you can visually preview your pictures. It lets you browse the images on the flash card and select the one(s) you want to print. It also lets you see a preview of your selected layout and cropping as well as image adjustments. Without the color LCD it's still easy but you need to print an index sheet of your pictures first. The Photo 925 directly reads CompactFlash Type I and II solid-state cards including Microdrives, SmartMedia or Memory Stick cards. It can read Secure Digital and MMC type cards via an optional ZIO! reader plugged into the Ext. I/F USB port on the back. Standalone printing from flash cards is quick and easy using the monochrome LCD and control panel buttons. Insert the card, print an index sheet, select the photo to print, input the photo #, select the desired paper type, size, # of copies and layout - then press the PRINT button. The Photo 925 offers more printing options in standalone mode than any other printer. There's over 20 built-in templates for album pages, photo stickers, index prints, picture packages, photo iron-ons, greeting cards and more. Images can be cropped before printing and there are filters for manual adjustments such as brightness, saturation, contrast and sharpness. PhotoEnhance for automatic image correction and Epson Natural Color for enhancing the greens and blues. Standalone print times using the same 4-megapixel Coolpix 4300 image on a CF memory card. PG=Epson Photo Glossy paper. The timer was started when the PRINT button was pressed and stopped when the print dropped in the output tray.
Paper types: PG=Photo Glossy, DWM=Matte Double Weight, CL-SG=ColorLife
Semi-Glossy, PGPP=Premium Glossy Photo Paper
The driver settings for the Epson ColorLife paper do not allow for borderless prints
and the print times are longer as it prints much slower when this media is selected.
The bottom line - this is a very good printer for the day-to-day printing tasks as well as producing excellent photo-quality prints. It's not terribly expensive but remember that the cost of special papers and ink cartridges can often add up to more than the price of the printer. This is just a fact of life with inkjet printers -- they don't call HP the "Ink Company" for nothing. I for one am still happy to pay for the priviledge of making my own photo prints at home as I like being in control of the entire process. If you're looking for a versatile printer that's capable of making great photo prints, whether it's plugged into your computer or not, then you should consider the Epson Stylus Photo 925.