Epson’s Stylus Photo R380; Letter-Size Inkjet Prints On CD/DVDs, Too Page 2

I next used a 10x loupe to examine the dot pattern and banding. While the prints exhibited a tight dot pattern, they did exhibit a very faint banding pattern--and to be sure, I cleaned and aligned the heads. But let me emphasize that the banding was not visible to the naked eye or to a simple magnifying glass and should not be viewed as a detracting factor in an economical printer. Either way, I didn't observe any color bleed or edge smearing. Add to that, the sharpening algorithm on the R380 produced a crisper result when printing from the card (the original image was a bit on the soft side). Also, colors were a very tiny bit on the greenish side, but not that you'd notice ordinarily (it took a comparison with output from my workhorse printer to see it). But any way you look at it, I was quite happy with the results.

Correcting for redeye was my next test. Removing the red in Photoshop CS2 is an effortless task these days. Plus you can do whatever editing or retouching is required while there. Still, if the printer can alleviate the problem on its own, via Print Settings, you might as well try it.

Redeye Reduction
Redeye Reduction (two little girls)--4x6 prints: I engaged redeye reduction on the R380 when printing from memory card. The function worked well in this instance. Compare with the original photograph, and note that surrounding red areas remain unaffected.

I took five images. Redeye was satisfactorily eliminated in two prints. In the others, at least one eye remained clearly red. The pictures involved one or both of my friends' little girls, with two pictures including the dad. Faces were either looking into the camera or at an angle--no clear pattern could be established as to which type of image redeye reduction was corrected. As a rough guide, I'd say, use on-board redeye correction when the pupils are a bright red (not glowing, pinkish, or orangey), with people facing the camera. As a true test, I chose pictures with red areas outside the eyes--these areas remained unaffected.

When it comes to resisting scratches, the intent is with something such as a fingernail, not a cat's claws. I ran a fingernail across a glossy print made on Epson's Premium Glossy Photo Paper. The paper surface was marred faintly, but the print itself was still usable: you really have to look hard to see the scratch marks, which do not extend to the embedded ink. When I tried the same thing with prints made off another printer, I got the same results. So scratch that advantage.

I next poured water over the entire print surface to test water resistance, then air-dried the print. That claim easily held water, but again the competition fared as well, with both prints drying to a clean finish. (Results with other printers, papers, and inks may vary.)

Now it came time to make prints on Epson and third-party (non-OEM) glossy photo papers and check for instant drying. The Epson papers dried immediately. Some non-OEM papers did not, and had to be left out for varying periods. But since Epson only vouches for performance with its own branded media, we'll have to say the printer and inks pass this test.

CD Print Screen
The CD print screen (Windows PC) looks somewhat different from the conventional print screen and may at first appear confusing. I simply used the default settings, with one minor adjustment.

CD/DVD Printing
The final task was printing on CD. This I did first from the computer, using Epson's Print CD software (included in the package), then directly from the printer. Using the software lets you add text and other graphics (not available when printing from a card), so this seems like the more propitious route to take. The instructions made the job seem daunting, but in practice it was fairly simple.

A flip of a lever on the machine prepares it for the correct media (paper or disc). After designing the label, I inserted the special CD/DVD tray that came with the printer (after first replacing the odd-shaped black disc with the real thing, making sure the CD/DVD sat flush), following directions to the letter, and voilà!, I got a CD I'd be proud to distribute. I first used the default print settings--you can modify, save, and recall new settings. In fact, I modified the inner parameter to 21mm (measurements are in metric) to maximize the printable area. Printing from the computer took 21/2 minutes.

CD Layout
Epson's Print CD software is easy and fun to use to give any CD or DVD a polished look.

When Epson first introduced CD printing, I was skeptical. Now I'm sold. It is such a pleasure to finally be able to deliver professional-looking CDs that don't have my handwritten scrawls on them!

Overall, the printer as a whole was a joy to work with. I do wish Epson had added an auto start/shutoff feature to the R380, but that's a minor point. Given the price, I couldn't ask for more.

For more information, contact Epson America, Inc., 3840 Kilroy Airport Way, Long Beach, CA 90806; (800) 463-7766, (562) 981-3840; www.epson.com.

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