Buyer's Guide 2008: Photo Printers
Make your best prints in your favorite sizes faster and more easily than ever before
The dye-based, wide-format Epson Stylus Photo 1400 is a six-color printer (CMYK, light cyan, light magenta), with a footprint of 24.2x31.6x16.3 inches, and weighs just over 25 pounds. It features a maximum 13x19-inch print size, and like some of Epson's other printers, can print directly onto CDs and DVDs. Estimated Street Price: $399.
On the pigment side, Epson offers the Stylus Photo R1800 and the Stylus Photo R2400. The R1800 utilizes the Epson UltraChrome Hi Gloss inks, consisting of eight colors (CMYK, photo black, matte black, red, blue) and a gloss optimizer. This combination of inks and the gloss optimizer delivers color prints that really pop. And, black-and-white output from the 1800 is quite good also (both photo black and matte black inks are installed at the same time, so you don't have to physically switch them out). Estimated Street Price: $549.
The Epson Stylus Photo R2400 is compatible with the company's UltraChrome K3 inks. In addition to cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta, 2400 uses three black inks (hence the "K3" designation): black (either photo or matte), light black and light light black. Although the photo and matte black cartridges need to be changed out physically to match whatever paper type you're using, the R2400 is well-equipped to output high-quality black-and-white prints. Estimated Street Price: $849.
HP's most affordable wide-format pigment printer, the Photosmart Pro B9180 is reasonably priced, considering the printer's built-in technology, like a densitometer for calibrating the printer to ensure color accuracy and consistency from print to print, and a system that monitors-and can compensate for-any problems with nozzle output. Its eight-cartridge ink set consists of photo black, matte black, gray, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta. Both black cartridges remain installed and the printer automatically switches between them, depending on paper type. As expected, its black and gray inks are ideal for black-and-white output. The B9180 is a front-loading printer, with a paper tray that fits cut sheet up to 13x19 inches and is equipped with a front-loading single-sheet slot for specialty and heavyweight media. The B9180 comes with both a USB and an Ethernet port. Estimated Street Price: $699.