Epson claims to have 74 per cent of the UK photo inkjet market, which seems a bit wishful – that said it’s certainly true that Epson sells a lot of printers into this arena. The Stylus Photo R300 sits near the top of a new range of machines designed with photography enthusiasts in mind. It’s a full six-colour printer, with light cyan and light magenta inks supplementing the core cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The aim is to improve rendition of light tones in areas like skies and skin.
This is a big printer, almost up to all-in-one dimensions, with a conventional paper path flowing from a 120 sheet, near-vertical tray at the rear, through to a telescopic output tray, which folds down from the front of the machine. At bottom right behind a hinged and sprung acrylic door is a set of memory card slots and a USB port, for connecting either a digital camera supporting PictBridge or an external Zip or CD drive.
This second use of a USB port is unusual and gives you the option to download pictures from a camera or its memory card, directly to more permanent media, without the intervention of a PC. A similar USB socket at the back of the printer, this time to the USB 2.0 standard, connects the printer to a PC so you can use the R300 for conventional hardcopy duties.
A second design feature which distinguishes this printer from the majority of its competitors is its LCD screen. It's mono and it can't show thumbnails of the pictures you're intending to print. Epson has gone for an alternative scheme, where the mono LCD is just used for control menus, error messages and a status display.
If you want to be able to view and select photos from a digital camera without printing thumbnail sheets – which the R300 can also do – £80 will buy you a 64mm, full-colour preview monitor, to slot in just behind and above the mono display. You can then use both screens to select and print your images. It's cheaper to buy the printer with the monitor screen included, as the price difference is then only around £50 on the street. There’s a Bluetooth adapter option too, so you can print from a notebook, PDA or camera-equipped mobile phone.
With the front paper tray open, you can unfold a second internal cover and slot in a CD holder that lets you print directly onto printable CDs. This gives a much more professional finish than printing on labels and sticking them onto the CD, though there's a price premium for this type of media.