LATEST PRINTER REVIEWS
LATEST PRINTER REVIEWS
2007-04-26 at 11:46:00 am #18279
Passel of printers
Specialized devices match features to users
April 2007.Despite the inroads of digital technology and promises of a paperless world, printing at home or the office is still popular and here to stay.The newest home printers offer a bigger bang for your buck with cost-saving features, and the ability to print from more places, including wirelessly.
Big Photo Prints
The Epson Stylus Photo R1400 (Windows or Mac) $499.99, may not be in your budget, but if you’re a serious photographer wanting fast pro-quality, up to 13″ x 19″ enlargements from home, look no further.It uses ink-jet technology but Epson has been able to shrink the individual ink droplets from the six colour cartridges so that they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye. This means smooth looking photo-lab quality prints.The R1400 is Epson’s third-generation model and almost a third the price of the original with much faster print times and quality. A full 13″ x 19″ image took less than eight minutes; 4″ x 6″ photos print in less than one minute, while an 8″ x 10” prints in less than two minutes.The prints are smudge, scratch, water and fade resistant. Although the paper ($4 per 13″ x 19″) sheet and $23.99 per cartridge seems steep, it’s still a bargain for photo-hobbysists and has a variety of paper stock including texturedThe ink is dye-based but from personal experience with several years old models, makes long lasting prints. Epson also makes longer lasting pigment-based ink systems at more than twice the price.The printer also prints directly on ink jet printable CDs/DVDs with professional-looking covers.
Lexmark’s X9350, $349 (Windows and Mac), is one of those rare all-in-one printers with two key features that bring it over the top.It can connect to secured home or small office wireless networks, plug directly into a network router or print from a single computer via USB.And most importantly for penny pinchers, it’s full duplex capable, meaning it can print on two sides of paper, automatically flipping the page around for sequential print jobs.Setting up the printer in a wireless environment does, however, take patience and you must follow the included directions, especially if you have wireless network security set up with your wireless router.To start, you have to physically connect the printer to a computer and choose between a wireless (for a single wireless laptop) or wired network connection, depending on whether you have more than one PC at home.Once done, the printer worked great, being able to print from my laptop from anywhere at home. There is a small lag time but it’s a lot faster than having to walk to a physically connected printer.The only feature not available in a wireless connection is being able to send files from the printer’s multi-disk memory reader, which also includes USB sticks and connected digital cameras.Although you can print directly to the printer from these media with ample controls, along with editing functions and size choices, getting these files to your PC requires a direct connection.Otherwise, all the Lexmark X9350 features, including a productivity control panel, work on wireless.As an all-in-one, the X9350 is well thought out, with fax (requires a physical phone connection), scan, copy and print features. A 50-page feed tray and the ability to print on just about anything, including business cards, postcards and photographic paper, make it useful, even in a busy household.It is ink-jet based, so don’t expect laser speeds. As is the case with its competitors, the boasted 30 pages per minute in black or 25 pages in colour is under ideal conditions, and is still one-third the speed of laser models.The document print quality is average, but I found the printer slows down considerably when set to best quality, the Achilles heel for ink-jet printers.But it’s affordable for what it does, and the inks will not break the bank.Although documents have rich colour, the Lexmark’s photo-printing quality — not its strength — improves when using the six-colour cartridge combo, essentially replacing the black cartridge with three more colours, but the prints require hours to dry, a small price for those wanting a do-it-all wireless printer.Available at Future Shop and Best Buy.
Small Colour Laser
The Samsung CLP-300 colour laser printer, $295 (Windows and Mac), available at Future Shop and Macrotronics, is currently the smallest of its kind, with unique features that make it economical, quiet and easy to use.Instead of traditional rotating toner cartridges, it uses four fixed “plug and print” toner cartridge bottles that are easy to replace separately as needed. There is less movement in the printer, making it quieter with a small hit in speed, but still much faster than ink-jet printers with laser quality.At 2,400 x 600 dpi, with a 17 ppm rating in black, and a four ppm rating in colour, it’s still two to three times faster in complicated print jobs than ink jets, and is more economical for the medium-level printing jobs that many small businesses and students require.But it does have a fast 14-second first-page-out black speed that will please most.Although the CLP-300 also prints colour photos, they don’t quite match ink-jet quality. As a laser it excels in documents that have colour components like graphs and colour text.It has a 150-page input tray and 100-sheet output capacity and prints on plain paper, envelopes, transparencies, labels and cardstock.The animated trouble-shooting guide is handy and it can enlarge pictures to multi-sheet poster size or print up to 16 pages in one sheet.Its colour yield of up to 2,000 pages (black), and up to 1,000 pages per colour make it more economical than lasers, considering each cartridge costs $70.
Professional Photo Albums
Kodak’s newest EasyShare G600 Printer Dock, (Windows and Mac) $169.95, is a totally redesigned portable 4×6 printer with clever features.The paper cartridge slips under the printer and an optional rechargeable battery $50, take it anywhere.It still uses professional lab quality dye sublimation technology (better than ink jet or laser printers) for the best looking one-minute colour prints that are waterproof, fingerprint proof, stain resistant and wipeable, but the toner and now thankfully non-perforated paper are new.Although the G600 is designed to accept a direct connection with Kodak’s newer C,V,P,Z camera models including battery charging, it works with any camera make or USB connected computer.The included software also lets you print multiple images on one sheet of paper and includes Kodak Perfect Touch technology with built-in red-eye reduction.You can even save your digital camera pictures to a connected USB memory stick while on the go or transfer them directly to a connected computer.The cost per print in these type of printers, also made by Canon and Samsung, has gone down considerably, often below 35 cents making the G600 handy for easy and instant printing at home, receptions, parties or while traveling.