Finally! A true, *archival* photo inkjet printer, with 200+ year fade resistance!
Page 2: Overview
Review First Posted: 1/25/2002
MSRP $899 US
The Stylus Photo 2000P is a photo-quality color inkjet printer intended for
professional and serious amateur photographers who want to take control of every
aspect of their digital print production -- from capture to output -- with excellent
quality and true "archival" print life. The 2000P offers photo-quality
image reproduction (1,440 x 720-dpi resolution) in a desktop printer package,
capable of printing images as large as 13 x 44 inches in "banner mode,"
or up to "super B" size (roughly 13 x 19 inches) on individual sheets.
Measuring 23.6 x 11.2 x 7.1 inches (609 x 311 x 175 millimeters)
and weighing 17.6 pounds (8.4 kilograms), the 2000P has a fairly large footprint
that increases further to accommodate the extended output tray (11 x 14-inch
paper) and top-loading paper feed. Plan on a total of about 30 inches of depth
and 16 to 17 inches of height to accommodate the 2000P in printing mode.
Some recent Epson printers offer "Border Free" printing, allowing them to print "full bleed" images to all four edges of standard paper sizes. The 2000P won't print a bleed to all four edges, but does support printing to the left and right edges on some sizes of roll paper. (A roll paper feed adapter is included as standard equipment with the unit.) I didn't experiment with roll paper printing on the 2000P, and the manual is a bit confusing in this area, but examining the printer itself reveals "ink catcher" wells (as used by the borderless printing feature) positioned for paper widths of 4, 8.3, 8.5, and 12.95 inches. As you might expect, you can also print long banners or panoramic prints using roll paper, up to a maximum size of 13 x 44 inches.
Epson is well known for its continuing innovation in MicroPiezo inkjet technology, which forces the ink through the print heads with mechanical pressure rather than heat (thermal inkjet). Unlike some of their other printers, Epson hasn't published the droplet size used by the 2000P, but the dots it creates do look a little bigger than those made by the four-picoliter droplets of the 780 and 1280 dye-based models. The 2000P does apparently use variable droplet sizes though, to produce very smooth tonal gradations. Despite the larger droplets used by the 2000P, in its highest-quality mode, it's almost impossible to see any dots with the naked eye. Each color is distributed with a 48-nozzle print head, for a total of 48 black and 240 color (48 x 5 colors) nozzles.
While the 2000P's dots are all but invisible in color mode, when printing using the black ink only, they're pretty evident. And as I'll discuss later, printing black & white with the full color ink set is a little problematic. If you're primarily a black & white photographer, the 2000P probably won't be your first choice.
The printer's USB interface provides fast, direct connection to Macintosh or Windows computers, and a parallel port connection is available as well.
Additional accessories supplied in the box include Black and Color ink cartridges,
a power cord, User Manual, Quick Start Guide, and a CD-ROM with bundled software
(including Epson drivers for Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, NT 4.0, and Macintosh
operating systems; Epson Film Factory for both Mac and Windows; and both Mac
and Windows versions of ArcSoft's PhotoImpression 3.0 and QBeo's PhotoGenetics
2.0, trial version). (Note that this last may change: QBeo unfortunately ceased
operations in December, 2001, just before this review was published.) The printer
cables (USB or Parallel) are not included.
The 2000P's six-color printing requires two ink cartridges: one Black and one Color (cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, and light magenta), which sell for $29.70 and $34.20, respectively, through Epson's online store. Of course, the "street" prices of the cartridges will be less if you shop around, possibly quite a bit less if you get lucky on the Internet. Like all of Epson's most recent printer designs, the 2000P uses "smart" cartridges, with chips in them that keep track of how much ink has been used. (The photo above shows the chip on a cartridge from a 780/785.) The advantage of this is that you can take cartridges in and out of the printer, and it won't get confused about how much ink is left. This is handy if you're planning an unusually long print run, and want to load up a fresh cartridge to prevent running out in the middle. The downside is that the chip prevents the cartridges from being refilled, since the cartridge "knows" when it's empty. (There are apparently ways around this, involving toggling the printer power at strategic times, but I'll leave it to those interested to track down the information for themselves. I don't want to be responsible for anyone damaging their printer.)
Epson has also provided awide range of paper options for the 2000P,
with a total of five different paper types/surfaces, ranging from glossy to
matte finish and watercolor paper. Print life on all paper types is very long,
in excess of 100 years, with the Archival Matte paper offering the longest rated
life, at 200 years plus. (Print life may vary depending on lighting, humidity,
and Ozone levels -- all of which can significantly reduce longevity.) As I mention
elsewhere, the pigments used in the 2000P's inks are extraordinarily stable,
to the point that the real limitation in print life is the paper itself, not
As mentioned above, the 2000P can print to the edges of the page when using roll-fed paper in any of four sizes. It doesn't provide the true edge-to-edge printing of cut sheets offered by the 780, 785, and 1280 models, but the roll-feed option could be very handy for a pro spooling off dozens of photos at a time. Just let it run, collect the paper afterward and run it through your paper trimmer to cut it to size. Several different options in the driver software control how the printer lays out the images on roll paper, either butting them up against each other or leaving gaps between them. In addition to its stellar photo printing capabilities, the 2000P is also capable of producing tack-sharp black-only pages for the occasional invoice or word processing document. It's really too slow in this mode though, to be used for anything other than very occasional one- or two-page print jobs.
The 2000P offers six printing modes when connected to a Macintosh or Windows computer running Epson's driver software. Draft mode is for faster printing of draft text documents (although even in this mode, it's no speed demon). Normal mode is for Web pages, business documents with text and graphics, and similar everyday printing needs (default mode). Fine mode creates higher quality text and images, at the further cost of slower print times, and Photo mode provides the highest quality images. Print speeds vary from a minute and 58 seconds per page in Draft mode, to 25 minutes 37 seconds in the highest-quality Photo mode (with the "Super" option selected in the print driver).