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Epson Stylus Photo R200Photo printer with direct CD and DVD label printing capabilities
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5
Users: Home users and anyone needing to print high-quality labels directly on discs.
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $99 (list)
More information: http://www.epson.com
In general, I don't write reviews of printers unless there's really a compelling story to tell about them. The Epson Stylus Photo R200, like all Epson R-series printers, combines standard photo-quality printing with the ability to print directly on inkjet-printable CD and DVD media. That's not so uncommon these days. But the real story in the case of the R200 is incredible value combined with outstanding image quality.
Now, I know the Stylus Photo R200 isn't a new model. It's been out for more than a year, in fact. But as I was haunting my local computer retailer, I happened upon one for $79 and thought, "Man, that's practically the cost of the ink cartridges alone. This can be my disposable DVD label printer." And since the R200 uses exactly the same ink cartridges as the Stylus Photo R300 printer I'd purchased previously, well, I didn't have anything to lose by picking up this guy and trying it out.
Given my vast experience with Epson printers in the past, I wasn't surprised to discover that this wasn't just a cheap printer, but a cheap printer that can deliver results far superior to much more expensive CD and DVD label printers.
Quality: 5 out of 5
I've maintained for some time that Epson makes the best inkjet printers on the market in every category in which the company chooses to compete. And I believe the same is true on the low end. I've experienced others that are passable, even good, but the Stylus Photo R200 is the only disc label printer I'd categorize as excellent. Colors printed on a variety of disc surfaces are vibrant; text is crisp; and tonality is smooth and clear, even in dark gradients where I've seen other label printers fail miserably.
In short, it's an Epson. You're going to get great quality from it, quality in a consumer device that other printer manufacturers might provide in their pro-level hardware.
Features: 4 out of 5
The Stylus Photo R200 offers six-color printing (CcMmYK) at a resolution of 5,760 x 1,440 on both paper and inkjet-printable disc media. Like the more expensive R-series printers, its six inks are each contained in separate cartridges, which is a great economy feature, as this allows you to purchase cartridges separately, rather than purchasing an entire set when just one color runs out.
But what makes this printer important, aside from image quality, is its ability to print directly to inkjet-printable disc media, such as CDs and DVDs. For this, the unit comes with a disc adapter. To print a disc, you set the printer to disc mode, insert the disc into the adapter and feed it through the front of the unit. Simple enough, but obviously this rules out high-volume label printing, unless you happen to be desperate enough to get a project finished that you're willing to hand-feed your discs into the printer all night. (For you pros out there, don't rule out this possibility. You never know when your automated disc production system might crap out on you the night before you're due to deliver 100 labeled discs. It wouldn't be a bad idea for you to keep an R200 around for such an emergency.)
Where the R200 comes up short in comparison with its more expensive siblings is in the "extra" features. The R200 does not have any media bays, so you'll be unable to print directly from you're camera's media card (not that I ever have). It also lacks a display for previewing images. I don't consider those features terribly important anyway in the context of a DVD label printer. What it does have in common with the other R-series printers is Print Image Matching technology; Exif 2.1 and 2.2 compatibility; and the ability to print border-free images on a wide range of papers.
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