Epson unveils 7 colour A3+ printer
By Ian Burley
UPDATE: Print initial sample analysis - click here.
The long awaited A3+ replacement for Epsonís 2000P pigment ink-jet photo printer is revealed. Features 7-ink tank design accommodating reformulated UltraChrome inks, including matte black and light black options, 4 picolitre minimum droplet size, 1440x2880 resolution printing, USB 2.0 and IEEE1394 Firewire connectivity.
Since Epson launched its remarkable new 7-ink A4 ink-jet, the Stylus 950 Photo, at CeBIT in March (click here), one of the most frequent questions we have been asked is Ė what about an A3 version? Here is Epsonís answer, the Stylus Photo 2100, which officially replaces the slow and ageing 2000P. The new 2100 has already been launched in Japan in the form of the Epson PM-4000PX (click here).
The new Stylus 2100 shares a lot of the standard features of its smaller 950 sibling, including front-loading CD printing, integrated roll and sheet feed media handling and a removable paper cutter. Both printers take seven single-ink cartridges. There is also a distinct family likeness between the two as well.
Pigment vs dye based inks
But from there on, the 2100 and the 950 take different paths. The 2100 is a pigment ink printer, while the 950 is a dye-based printer. The out-going 2000P covered the entry-level for Epsonís professional archival quality ink-jet printing range that goes all the way up to the massive Stylus Pro 10000 poster printer.
Big improvements over the 2000P
The Epson 2000P was almost grudgingly adopted by users who needed its pigment ink archival capabilities. However, the 2000P was expensive, slow and print quality was often not considered ideal. Compared to the cheaper dye-based Epson 1200-series A3 printer range, 2000P results had less vivid colour, high gloss results were impossible to achieve and prints often suffered from metamerism, a problem characterised by unusual colour fidelity in according to varied lighting conditions.
Better value and a lot more speed
Epson says the 2100 goes a long way to addressing many of these issues. You certainly get a lot more for your money. Priced £492.76 excluding VAT (€689), the 2100 is £16 cheaper than the old 2000P right from the start. Print costings from Epson are £1.60 (€2.40) for a 20x30cm (8x12 inches) photo print, including ink and media. The 2100 is also significantly faster, with Epson claiming an 8x10 inch test print in 1440dpi mode takes 256 seconds to print using the 2100 compared with 750 seconds for the 2000P. Helping the performance of the 2100 are its fast USB 2.0 and IEEE1394 Firewire connectivity options. However, we have to note that these times donít come near to Canonís speedy S9000, which can produce a similar sized print in not much more than 60 seconds, despite making do with USB 1.1.
We havenít yet seen any sample prints from a 2100, but Epson says print quality has been improved through the introduction of its new UltraChrome pigment ink formulation. The new inks feature resin-coated pigment particles, plus the availability of three different types of black ink. The red portion of the 2100ís colour gamut has been significantly improved, says Epson. There is, however, no dual-yellow photo ink option as in the Japanese version of the 950 model. For a more detailed look at Epsonís new pigment ink technology, click here.
So when will you be able to buy one? Thatís not yet easily answered and there is no official word from Epson so far. The 950 was announced in mid March, yet retail supplies wonít be flowing until early May. Our guess is that you may have to wait until the end of May to early June before the 2100 starts to ship. Incidentally, if you are seriously are interested in the 2100, you might want to look out for further Epson announcements due within the week Ė watch this space!
Is the Epson Stylus 2100 just what youíve been waiting for or are you sticking with Epsonís dye-based 1200-series or even Canonís ultra-fast S9000? Click here to let us know.
Second opinion? Check out www.photo-i.co.uk