Review: Epson Stylus Photo 895
Don Bradbury looks at the Stylus Photo 895
|Product||Epson Stylus Photo 895|
|We like||Excellent print quality. No need for a PC.|
|We don't like||Instructions could be more explicit. Compact Flash adapter only|
When we looked at the Epson 875DC we were taken by the facility of direct printing from memory card to paper. The rest of the gear looked good, too, so the upgrade to 895 was especially inviting for us to take another look.
By the way, the 'DC' has been dropped for the 895. The printer still features the memory card slot, complete with Compact Flash adapter, but the designation has been shortened. You can use other media but you have to buy their adapters separately. That's SmartMedia, Sony's Memory Stick, and the IBM Microdrives and PC Cards (no adapters required for the last two).
Maintaining the slightly quirky installation routine of the 875DC - which you have to adhere to if you want a clean driver install - all went well, and the machine was up and running with the basic print facility in no time.
Like the 875DC, the 895 can accept a roll paper (holder and paper supplied), though that takes a minute or two to install. So does the extra software for edge-to-edge printing (ie no white borders), PhotoQuicker for assembling your photos to print, PhotoStarter which automatically launches PhotoQuicker and loads photo data when you insert a memory card, and CardMonitor for monitoring the PC Card slots in the printer and PC.
The Epson driver was, as ever, useful and intuitive to use. The print output was superb, especially photo printing, and the speed respectable, if not the very quickest. Noise levels were modest to say the least.
This machine, like the 875DC, at 18" x 10" (or 14" if you allow for the rear paper support, though not the front ejected-paper tray) is not the smallest of printers, but space had to be found for the memory card facility and control electronics and display. The latter is the big gain, with an easy-to-use LCD and control buttons to set all the parameters of the print output from a memory card. There's an optional LCD that, when popped into a top slot, lets you view the image you want to print. That could be worth the extra cost.
You could complain a bit about the labelling of basic print control buttons. Self-coloured symbols moulded in the case are not the easiest to read. And the quick start setup guide that supplements the user manual was still not as easy to follow as it might be. However, the overall package was excellent, simply because print quality is paramount and nobody does that better than Epson, especially if you're into photo printing.
Colours were vivid, with no signs of significant banding visible to the naked eye, and single colour areas were, at normal viewing distances, essentially free of dots. Reducing the quality settings from the default High to Normal, and Photo Enhance from the default On to Off, lead to successive lowering of overall quality, with banding more apparent, and, for portraits, less acceptable skin tones. All as you'd expect; the quality mode is worth preserving.
The print control display lets you adjust virtually every aspect of printing from memory media. From index prints to single picture, paper type from plain to matte to photo quality, paper size and page layout, DPOF or not, with basic picture control plus the quality adjustment - photo enhance etc.
Epson, I thought, could have been just a little more explicit over the application of roll paper and control panel settings, but, as ever, once you've tried it it's easy. That includes the fact that some trimming of images takes place (especially top and bottom) for edge-to-edge ink coverage. So if you pride yourself on accurate framing of shots with your digicam, just watch out for that.
The Epson Stylus Photo 895 maintains the reputation of the Company for excellent output quality and overall facility. If you're sure you can justify the extra expense of this model over those without memory card facilities, then this could be the printer for you. On the other hand, if you always make adjustments to your pictures before printing, or you don't need the PC Card facility, then the cheaper 890 could be the model to go for. Finally, bear in mind that if you don't already have PC Card facilities on your PC, then the 895 neatly provides them. Memory cards, PC Card drives, you name it; they're all accommodated. Another hit for Epson then.