i have been hooked to Epson printers since maybe the mid-90's. before that, i used Canon printers. but because i am always after the best resolution for photo printing, i like Epson over other printers. they are usually always the first one to invent the industry standard for the highest resolution. then the other brands play catch-up to them.
the only time i chose Canon over Epson was maybe in the early 90's because it was Canon who first invented separate ink cartridges per color (which is therefore more economical), then they invented the first wide format desktop printer. but since Epson caught up to that too, i never went back to Canon. i am not really saying that Epson is always the best brand or has the best models. the market and the industry is too fluid to ever presume so. i am just saying this according to and with relevance to my experience so you have to take this advice with a grain of salt. besides, i will not get a red centavo to promote Epson's brand.
i have friends who have asked me several times which brand i would recommend so i decided to blog about it. this is always my FIRST advice to them. Whatever brand you may want to buy, IF photo printing is your main purpose, get a printer that has at least 6-color inks ( therefore it would have 6 ink cartridges) . this means it should have the usual 4: cyan, magenta, yellow and black, plus 2 more cartridges for light cyan and light magenta. why? because this will provide the photo print that has the closest approximation to a photo lab print. if you have big bucks, there are also printers that has 8-color inks which is even better.
my Epson is the R230. it has a resolution of 1440 dpi x 5760 dpi. i got it about 2 years ago for about PHP6,500.00. however, the better choice these days in the economical photo printer range is the R290 (which Cabbie says retails for PHP9,000) because it now has what Epson labels Claria inks. this means the ink formulation is acceptably archival (which Epson claims would last 100-200 years before it starts to fade depending on light exposure and other factors). remember, these are tests are done via controlled simulated lab conditions since Epson has not been around that long to really test in actual chronology. but i will take their word for it.
another thing you might want to look into when purchasing your printer is the ink droplet size which Epson measures in picoliters (pl). the smaller the droplet size, the finer your photos will look. for example, my R230 has a minimum droplet size of 3 pl. Cabbie's R290 will go as small as 1.5 pl. so the droplets are almost half the size of mine meaning this is definitely better. however, unless you have a killer eye for this detail, it is almost undetectable--almost.
if you ask me what my dream printer is, it is still the Epson R1800. this is a wide format printer that will print your 12 by 12 digi-layouts in full size because it is actually 13 in. wide. it also has what Epson labels UltraChrome Hi-Gloss® archival inks which is even glossier than Claria and is water resistant. this is also the model that has 8-color cartridges. what is stopping me from getting it is the price. it retails for about PHP39,000.00. another printer model locally available that prints wide is the R1290. it is a lot cheaper but it does not have archival inks if that matters to you that much.
TIP: you may have noticed by now that the Epson series that are made for photos usually start with the letter "R". those models that start with a "C" are office printers. they can print photos too but the quality is not as good as those that start with "R".
On Epson INKS:
Ria brought up that her Epson clogged. i had experience with that, too. there are only 2 reasons why that happens. the FIRST is: ink refills. don't get me wrong. i LIKE ink refills. i had the Epson C59 which i outfitted with a refillable ink system. it saved me a whole lot on ink costs especially since i have 3 kids that has lots of assignments that need printing. i bought the C59 for PHP 2,300.00. it eventually clogged because of the refills. when using refills, KNOW that after a while, you will have to throw the printer out and get a new one. but for the low price of the printer and the low cost of the refills, it was worth the savings on original cartridges. i have already printed hundreds of documents before it died.
the SECOND reason is: fake inks. these are the ones you buy thinking that they are originals but they are not. i once bought some from a reputable store in Megamall. i did not know they were fakes because they LOOKED like originals, complete with seals and holographic stickers. the only time i discovered they were fake was when i brought my printer to the service center. they proved it to me by simply putting in original ones and running a couple of print head cleaning cycles. the printer worked perfectly from then on. so if you bought fake inks, no amount of head cleaning will unclog it. as a matter of fact, it could even damage the printer more.
which bring me to the next topic--print heads. with Epson, the ink cartridge is less expensive. than HPs. this is because everytime you buy an HP cartridge, you are also buying a new print head. Epson's print head comes with the printer instead of the ink cartridge. if you ask me, i prefer it this way. the head will last long enough if you do not abuse the printer (such as inserting too thick or too rough paper OR using refills). another common mistake is thinking not using the printer too much will make it last longer. actually, if you do not use the printer for too long, the print heads will clog also. so you have to make sure you use the printer or run a cleaning cycle maybe at least once a week.
savings tip: if you want to use your printer for office docs only, go ahead and get a cheap printer and use refills. then throw out the printer when it eventually clogs up. but NEVER use refills for your photo printer if you want the best color output and want it to last longer.
what is a chip resetter?
this is a hot, HOT tip for Epson users. and i think this is one of the best reasons to get an Epson photo printer--chip resetters! you see, Epson has gotten wise (and maybe a little greedy) with regards to the ink refills. they know you save a lot even if it will eventually damage your printer and you do not get the best looking output. so they outfitted their ink cartridges with a microchip. what does this do?
long ago, the computer "senses" ink levels because they are timed. the computer actually just approximates ink level by tracking how many pages you have printed and reports a certain ink level amount. when the ink level reaches empty, it tells you to change cartridges. however, this is inaccurate. usually, there is still some ink in the cartridge even if the computer says it is empty. i used to circumvent this by simply reinserting the cartridge back and pushing the button that indicates i have changed it. with the new microchipped inks, this does not work anymore. even if you reinsert the cartridge, the computer will know it is still the old one and will refuse to print.
this is where the chip resetter is useful. it works by touching the cartridge chip to the resetter. a red light will blink and when it turns green, the cartridges microchip is reset. this means that when you reinsert the "run out" cartridge, the printer will "think" that it is new and will start a cleaning cycle and then show up on the printer as a FULL ink cartridge. in my experience, the cartridge is actually still half full to one fourth full when it reports it has run out. this actually translates to many, many more pages. so you can imagine how much savings you will gain. the R230 cartridge costs PHP 585.00 would you like to throw out even one fourth of that? probably not.
chip resetters may be bought from some stores in Greenhills. it would cost maybe around PHP500.00. just remember that these are NOT from Epson so don't look for them in the big Epson dealer stores. look for them in the smaller general computer stores. ask for the one specific to your printer model because they are cartridge-specific.
minor setback to using chip resetters: once the cartridge is reset, the printer "thinks" that it is full when it is really not. you have to expect that at some point in time, it WILL run out while the printer reports to you otherwise. you will know so because the latest photo you are printing suddenly looks off-color. it is at this time that you change to a fresh cartridge. also, it is a good idea to keep track of the cartridges you have reset already by marking them (maybe with a permanent pen on the actual cartridge) so you do not lose track (like me!) of which ones are already reset. anyway, once you replace the run out (yet wrongly-reported-to-be-half-full cartridge) one, the printer will report it to be full again.
that's it!...i hope that helps with the decision-making. happy printer hunting!