This is specifically a photo printer, so you wouldn’t expect plain paper text print to be particularly quick, even though Epson still quotes speeds of 37ppm and 38ppm in draft mode. Ignoring the fact that very few people print in hard-to-read draft mode, you’d have to be printing pages with virtually nothing on them to get close to the claimed speeds.
Our five-page text document took 1:10 to complete, giving a realistic normal mode speed of 4.29ppm. Unusually, increasing the run to 20 pages gives very little improvement, with a recorded speed of 4.58ppm. This is largely due to the efficiency of Epson’s driver, which takes very little time for processing before starting to print. Although Epson quotes a slightly faster speed for colour print than black, this is not what we saw, as our five-page, black text and colour graphics document returned just 3.37ppm.
With this machine, photo print times are at least as important as text and graphics. A 15 x 10cm photo printed on A4 paper took 1:56 in Best Photo mode, but a mean 47 seconds in Normal Photo mode. “Is there a difference in print quality”, you ask?
We answer “Yes, but for many purposes you can get away with Normal”. The Best Photo mode print gives better definition in areas of sunlight and more detail in areas of shade, but it’s probably worth saving for final copies of your photos, for gifts or exhibition.
Colours are natural and there’s little apparent cast to any primary. Textures are smooth, thanks to the enhanced 5,760 x 1,440dpi resolution, and vary smoothly from light to dark tones.
Colour graphics are smooth and dither-free, though black text over graphic fills is rough round the edges. This isn’t surprising, as text is rough round the edges when printed on plain white paper, too. Black text print has never been Epson’s forte.
With six cartridges to pay for rather than four, you’d expect page costs to be higher than for a four-colour printer. Two different sets of cartridges fit the machine, though Epson tries hard to steer you towards the lower capacity set. However, using the higher capacity T0791-6 set returns costs of 2.80p for an ISO black page and 9.15p for ISO colour.
The black page cost is not bad, but the colour cost is on average one to three pence higher than from its main rivals, though most of those are four-colour machines.
There are good and bad points to the Epson Stylus Photo P50. On the upside you have six-colour print, a good photo print speed and the extra facility of being able to print on CDs and DVDs. On the downside you have relatively high running costs, no status display and lack of any memory card slots. You really have to decide if the P50 fits your requirements for a photo printer.
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