Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
Printer preview: Epson Stylus 950 Photo
By Ian Burley
UPDATE 11th April - click here
Itís the most feature-packed Epson photo printer yet.
Page 3: Preliminary conclusion
Very impressive so far
On paper alone, the Epson Stylus 950 Photo is a formidable piece of kit. Epson has already led its competitors with borderless printing, for example and undoubtedly we should expect the 950ís CD printing and maybe paper cutter features to be copied by others.
Itís also interesting to see Epson introduce a thick media flat paper path just as Canon abandoned this useful feature. But Canonís engineers can at least smile about Epsonís decision to adopt single colour ink tanks at last, something championed by Canon in recent years. Perhaps less welcome to many is the fact that these tanks remain opaque and chipped, unlike Canonís.
We canít really make a clear judgement on print quality yet. Weíve only seen a few sample prints, though these do seem to underline the value of Epsonís remarkably tiny 2pl ultra microdots.
There is no question that Canon remains the superior choice if speed is of importance. Epsonís own figures indicate a 10x8 inch photo print takes around 200 seconds to complete with the 950, whereas a Canon S900 can do the same job in as little as 70 seconds. Even the older and slower Canon S800 can print an 8x10 in around 130 seconds. While the Epson 950 may be slower than the latest Canons, but itís significantly faster than previous Epsons; a Stylus 890 Photo, for example, will take 445 seconds to print the same 8x10.
What about a wide carriage model? All Epson will say to us is that nothing has been announced and while a pigment ink A3 printer (PM-4000PX Ė click here) has been announced in Japan, this is not a wide carriage version of the dye-based Stylus 950 Photo. With the considerable success of the existing 1280 and 1290 models, weíd have thought a wide-carriage version of the 950 must be inevitable, but thatís pure speculation on our part.
We also canít make any definitive comment on running costs as ink prices have not yet been released and we havenít run our standard ink consumption tests yet. But the single ink tank system should help reduce costs. Epson does quote €0.45-€0.70 (UK£0.28-£0.43 or US$0.40-$0.62) per 10x15cm (4x6 inches) print and €1.60-€2.40 (UK£0.98-£1.47 or US$1.41-$2.11) per 20x30cm (8x12 inches) print. However, we have no idea how these costs were calculated.
One thing we can say is that the 950 is a very quiet printer. There is none of the clattering that is characteristic of previous Epsons while feeding paper and cleaning the print head.
Overall, so far so good. The Stylus 950 Photo is the new flagship of Epsonís consumer ink-jet range. At €473.28 (excluding VAT) or £322.55 (confirmed Epson UK price excluding VAT), or roughly US$416, the Stylus 950 Photo supplements the current Epson range rather than replaces anything. The current range-topper is the Stylus 895 Photo and thatís available for under £155 excluding VAT. The 950 is priced to within a few pounds of Canonís S900, thoughÖ
Suffice to say, we canít wait to put an evaluation sample of the Stylus 950 through its paces here at DPN. Hopefully the wait wonít be too long!
UPDATE 11th April - click here