Epson DuraBright Ultra Top Of The Class?

The printer specialist showed us the latest breakthrough in its ink technology in the glamorous location of Birmingham.

After Angers, Athens and Munich in recent weeks it was back to reality with a bump on Thursday as Epson took me to Birmingham to talk ink technology. Thankfully, it was a lot more interesting than it sounds.

What Epson unveiled was Durabrite Ultra, its brand new multi-purpose mainstream inkjet hocus pocus. Unlike the majority of manufacturers, Epson has chosen to go down the pigment based route for its printers, refining what is traditionally a smudge prone, insoluble material into a far more user friendly beast.

Now the reason Epson toils with troubles associated with pigment is that its pros tend to outweigh the cons. For one it has a far greater durability than ink, something increasingly called for when we snap happy digital camera lovers want physical reproduction of our virtually stored memories. For another its optical density is much improved and lastly it produces far superior prints on standard paper.

By shrinking the particles 100x smaller than traditional pigment particles and coating them in a charged ionic resin which also add a gloss finish to prints, Durabright Ultra looks to have conquered many of these shortcomings whilst maintaining its strengths. In fact, based on reproductions I saw produced first hand at the company’s Telford plant (above), it looks like Epson could be onto a real winner. What’s more, five printers based around DuraBright Ultra are ready to go now and here’s a run down.

At entry level there looks to be two real bargains to be had in the shape of the D68 and D88 (left, right). Retailing for just 69 and 79 euros respectively, these four colour individual ink models are designed for home and small office use. Both manage super high resolutions of 5760 optimised dpi and support borderless A4 prints, with the 68 capable of an alleged 17 text pages per minute (ppm) and the 88 purported to reach 22 (always take ppm ratings with a triple tequila sized amount of salt). Refills have an RRP for £9.99 per colour and “Photo” editions of both machines contain 7 x 5in branded glossy paper and a photo album.

Just above this are three multifunction devices: the DX3800 (left), DX4200 and DX4800 (right). Each combines four colour DuraBright Ultra print technology with copy and scan abilities. Like the D68 and D88 they achieve a 5760 optimised dpi, with the 3800 producing 600 dpi scans and the 4200 and 4800 doubling that to 1200 dpi. Respective Epson ppm ratings moving up the scale are 18, 20 and 22 pages per minute. The 4800 sports a five-in-one memory card reader while the trio all support PictBridge for direct printing from a digital camera. RRPs are again highly reasonable with the DX3800 costing just 89 euros, the DX4200 129 euros and the DX4800 149 euros. Since all DuraBright Ultra printers use the same cartridges, prices per colour remain £9.99.

Finally, two higher specced printers (”but Gordon, you said there were five, not seven?”) the CX5800F and CX7800 – above – will also be appearing using DuraBright Ultra, but their details were not given out on the day (”Ahhh”). Despite this, a little digging reveals them to also be multifunction devices, with the 5800F also featuring a fax (as the “F” implies). Both feature LCDs (the former just a single line display), a 48bit scanner, slots for Flash memory cards and respective 18 and 20 ppm rates. Each has an RRP of $179.99. We’ll be looking to get our captive Print Master (a title he has longed for since a little kid) Simon Williams to cast his attentive eyes over one or two of these in the coming weeks.

So, Birmingham and ink technology, not really as bad as it sounds…

…though Athens next time chaps, if you don’t mind?

Epson UK

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