When I took on the task of reviewing printers I worried that I’d be so bored that I’d fall asleep at the keyboard, leading to a review full of jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjllllllllllllllllllllmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm and a keyboard full of slobber. Luckily, the Epson Artisan 800 kept me awake and excited and, dare I say it, enthused about the state of printers.
First off, the Artisan 800 is a beautiful printer. It’s not often that I say anything is “beautiful” per se, but this thing is two tone black – shiny piano and matte with a sliver of silver through the center. It has a huge front touchscreen, a SD/xD/CF reader and USB port, and a hidden paper tray that pops open when a print is about to emerge from the 800s warm, plastic womb.
There are three ways to use this printer. First, you can hook it up to a Mac or PC for standard and photo printing. Then you can scan in images on the top scanner and copy them. Finally, you can pop in a flash card or USB drive or print directly from your camera via PictBridge.
The kit comes with Mac and PC drivers as well as a system for adding the printer to your network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. For some reason I could never get it to connect via Wi-Fi but it did work via Ethernet but I chalk that up to the vagaries of my home network and not a problem with the printer. It prints at 38 pages a minute and can print a draft photo in about 10 seconds. The standard text print quality is fairly good but the photo feature are where this model shines.
Printing photos from cards is a snap. You simply drop in the card, pick a few photos using the onscreen display, and print. We got about 60 prints out of the cartridges before we really had to start replacing them and we’ve replaced the black and the cyan so far. Because it has six different inks you could end up running out of one color before the rest of the cartridges are empty.
The photo quality is actually quite nice. The images are clean and waterproof and the printer can print on almost any paper – although glossy and matte photo paper are best. It reads images directly from a USB key and can also print on CDs and DVDs.
The best feature, however, is the automatic image improvement. This will make mom and dad very happy. You simply scan in a photo and set the auto enhancement. The system lets you blow up photos and improve the saturation and brightness with even old Instamatic photos from the 1970s. I know many all-in-ones have this feature but the 800s was so easy to use that I suspect it will be a selling point for the printer.
The cartridges last for about 60 good photos before needing to be replaced. You simply open a side panel to access the cartridges.
The printer itself costs $299.99 and, as I said before, looks less like a printer than a piece of home theatre equipment. It’s honestly one of the best printers I’ve used in years. I love it… no faint praise especially considering my five year love affair with a color laser printer that ended in heartbreak and divorce.
Get this for Mom and Dad and sit them down with an old album and the image enhancement system. They’ll be occupied for months.