The driver, utilities and status monitor installed without problem from the supplied CD and the printer installed under USB quickly and simply. The driver includes options for multi-page sheets, watermarks and manual duplexing, though not for over-printing.
This is definitely a printer aimed at the digital photography market, so we wouldn't expect a five page text test to print particularly quickly. However, the time of two minutes 21 seconds is pretty poor, averaging not much more than two pages per minute. It's some way off the 15ppm draft mode speed quoted by Epson.
Print quality is excellent. The R300 produces strong black text and vibrant, dense colour graphics, but it really comes into its own on photographs, as you might expect. Here colours are natural and smooth, with graduated areas particularly clean.
During our ink yield tests, we repeatedly saw a ‘Paper is not set correctly’ error, which is one step off a paper jam and a fault of the paper feed, which failed to pick up sheets of our standard Staples copier stock. This error was frequent enough to prevent us leaving the printer to complete a job while we got on with other work and although it's perhaps unlikely you would leave a photo printer to print large jobs, it is irritating when you can't rely on its paper pick-up.
The main printing cost, as with all photo printers, is not the ink but the paper. With Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper still costing around 40p for an A4 sheet (the cheapest we could find) the overall cost comes out at 52.4p for a 30 per cent colour page. Note that’s 30 per cent, rather than 20 per cent, because of the six-colour printing system. A five per cent black text page comes out at around 2.4p. Both figures are reasonable for a printer in this category.
This is a commendable photo printer for the money, which produces very high quality prints on a variety of media. However, there’s a query over its ability to feed plain paper consistently, and don’t be tempted to rush out a text document on it – the text speed is low. If you go for one of these, it's worth paying the extra for the colour LCD screen at purchase, rather than upgrading later.