Switch to top quality photo print and you're looking at around four and a half minutes, but this is still pretty speedy and the quality is excellent on glossy or matte media. As you might expect, the extra inks extend the colour gamut and deliver both bright, vivid colours and subtle pastel ones in equal measure. Our standard five page text document took one and a half minutes, but text print is not the Stylus Photo R1800’s primary purpose.
One thing Epson piezo-electric ink-jets are often criticised for is stopping periodically to maintain their heads by priming them. It delays printing and wastes ink, though this is allowed for in the companies ink-usage calculations. That said, we noticed fewer maintenance cycles from this printer than previous models, which is good.
It’s quite hard to calculate ink use on a multi-colour printer like the Stylus Photo R1800. We assume equal use of all colours and one of the two blacks in calculating the cost. This gives a 30 per cent coverage (five per cent per colour), but in practice may vary quite a bit, depending on the content of the images you print. Bear in mind 30 per cent cover is a 50 per cent increase over a standard four-colour print, so you would expect a cost increase, too.
In fact, we calculate a five per cent black text A4 page will cost 2.67p, while a 30 percent A4 colour print comes out at just over 55p. As usual, the ink costs are swamped by the price of glossy photo paper – the cheapest A4 Epson Premium Glossy we could find costs 35p per sheet. If you print A3, the paper will set you back around 94p per sheet (from www.misco.co.uk), a lot more than double the A4 price.
While the design and mechanics of this A3 Epson Stylus Photo R1800 are very similar to an A4 printer you will have to expect to pay more for the longer carriage. In its favour, this is a very versatile printer that can handle anything from postcards up to oversize A3. You can do full-bleed output, print on roll paper or on compatible CD blanks and thanks to its six colours, it produces excellent photographic prints on gloss, watercolour or plain papers.