hardware/epsonstylus320.jpgThe Epson Stylus Photo Printer R320 is an inexpensive inkjet printer with an impressive collection of features and good quality output. For the home photo enthusiast it is calling “Buy me, buy me!”

Installation is quick and easy. The printer supports the USB 2.0 high-speed interface for connection to a PC or Mac, but you will need to purchase the cable. The R320 comes with a good “Quick Start Guide” as well as a “Printer Basics” manual which includes instructions and trouble-shooting tips. Once set up the printer runs quietly. Text output is excellent with a maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi. When printing in “best quality” on Epson photo paper, photographs looked great and the ink dried quite quickly. One word of caution, you may need to spend some time adjusting the brightness and color of your monitor to the printer, especially if you use an LDC monitor. This, however, is true of most inkjet printers.

This Epson Photo Printer uses six different color ink cartridges, so you will only have to purchase the color(s) you need. There is a nice pop-up reminder that alerts you to low ink levels giving you enough time to order more ink before you actually run out. CNET rates the ink yield of each cartridge at 450 pages at 5 percent coverage per primary--about 18 cents per page. Each cartridge costs about $12. I found the printer to be no more or less ink-guzzling than others in its class.

The R320 prints borderless photos without margins in 4” x 6”, 5”x7”, 8” x 10” and 8.5 x 11”. It will even print borderless panoramic photos. It handles all types of media including labels, envelopes, transparencies, iron-on transfers, and Epson heavy-weight matt paper.

Addition features include slots for 14 different memory cards, a color LCD preview screen, and a USB port where you can plug in a PictBridge camera (now being supported from many manufacturers) or a USB portable hard drive or Zip drive. This allows you to print photos without attaching the printer to a computer. A small monochrome LCD has built-in menus that allow you to some control over the direct printing process. You can adjust contrast, brightness, and saturation as well as crop photos and add a black-and-while or sepia filter. If your camera supports PIM or EXIF tag information, as many of today’s camera do, you can also have the printer automatically adjust your images based upon your camera’s picture tag information. Although most folks probably won’t use this, if you are really into printing photos, this is, indeed, a very nice feature.

Another substantial feature is the ability to print labels directly on CDs and DVDs. You must purchase special inkjet printable disks, but the process is easy and the output is very professional-looking. The CD tray even has an attachment for mini CDs. If you have a Bluetooth camera phone or PDA, you can purchase a $69 Bluetooth adapter for printing wirelessly from your Bluetooth device.

The drawbacks to this printer are threefold. At 19.6 inches wide, 10.4 inches deep, and 8.6 inches high, this printer will take up a considerable amount of workspace. While useable, the 1.5” LCD screen is a bit too small. And last, but not least, comparable to other printers in its class, the R320 is a bit slow (15 ppm text printing). If you can live with these small drawbacks, the price is right and the printer is excellent.

Manufacturer:  Epson

Price:  $199