Epson's 2880dpi letter-size photo printer delivers *quality* prints, with BorderFree option, at an incredible price!
Page 2: Overview
Review First Posted: 7/19/2001
MSRP $129 US
The Stylus Photo 780 is a high-quality color inkjet printer targeted for the new generation of digital photographers who want to control every aspect of their digital print production -- from capture to output -- with minimum technical knowledge and great results. The 780 offers photo-quality image reproduction (2,880 x 720-dpi resolution) in an easy-to-use printer package, priced very competitively for the consumer market.
Measuring 17.7 x 9.7 x 7.2 inches (450 x 246 x 183mm) and weighing 8.3 pounds (3.76 kg), the 780 has a medium-size footprint that increases slightly to accommodate the extended output tray (letter-size paper) and top-loading paper feed.
Using Epson's new BorderFree photo printing technology, the 780 can make borderless prints in standard photographic sizes, including 4 x 6-, 5 x 7-, and 8 x 10-inch, up to 8.5 x 11 inches. It accepts single sheets of paper up to 8.5 x 14 inches, in varying weights and sizes, plus envelopes, cards, transparencies, film, self-adhesive sheets, and stickers.
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 Windows; and both Mac and Windows versions of ArcSoft's PhotoImpression 3.0 and QBeo's PhotoGenetics 2.0 (trial version). The printer cables (USB / Parallel) are not included.
is well known for its continuing innovation in MicroPiezo inkjet technology,
which forces the ink through the print heads with pressure rather than heat
(thermal inkjet). The 780 uses *very* small 4-picoliter droplets, plus variable
droplet sizes, to produce continuous-tone printing that's virtually indiscernible
from conventional photographic prints. Each color is distributed with a 48-nozzle
print head (the large number of nozzles helps increase printing speed), for
a total of 48 black and 240 color (48 x 5 colors) nozzles.
If you haven't looked closely at a top-end inkjet photo print in the last few
years, you're in for a surprise. The dots have gotten so tiny, and so close
together that they're literally invisible to the naked eye. Epson has really
pushed this technology farther than anybody, with the results you see at right.
The area shown in the photomicrographs is only 4-5 millimeters across. It's
a shame we don't have a comparable photo to show you, from an older-generation
inkjet printer. - This one created by comparing prints from the 780's sister
printer the 785EPX (which uses the same print engine) at 720 and 2880 dpi.
In practice, we didn't feel there was much difference between prints output
at 1440 and 2880 dpi. Both looked exceptional, the 2880 ones just took longer.
We'd therefore recommend the 1440 dpi printing mode for most routine jobs.
The printer's USB interface provides fast, direct connection to Macintosh or
780's six-color printing requires two ink cartridges: one Black and one Color
(cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, and light magenta), which sell for $22.46
and $17.96, respectively, through Epson's online store. (These prices are comparable,
if not a little less costly, than its competitors.) 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 Epson's other most recent printer
designs, the 780 uses "smart" cartridges, with chips in them that
keep track of how much ink has been used. 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 we'll
leave it to those interested to track down the information for themselves: Having
personally ruined two printers with third-party inks, we're not too keen on
the concept of refilling cartridges, and don't want to be responsible for anyone
else venturing down that woe-filled path.)
has also provided a very wide range of paper options, from basic clay
coated inkjet paper to premium photo glossy, including a very nice Matte Heavyweight
paper that has an estimated print life of 25 years when mounted under glass.
(Print life may vary depending on lighting, humidity, and Ozone levels -- all
of which can significantly reduce longevity.)
mentioned above, Epson is the first manufacturer to offer edge-to-edge printing
for several standard photo paper sizes (4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, and 8.5 x 11 inches),
a significant improvement over previous border-free options, which required
that images be printed on oversized perforated papers, and then trimmed to size
-- an expensive use of printing material. To avoid the print-and-trim process,
the 780 uses special ink-catching, foam-lined cavities positioned to align with
the edges of the various supported paper sizes, ensuring that the ink stays
on the paper without bleeding over onto the printer rollers. BorderFree printing
does have its limitations, however, as it slows the output process a fair bit,
and is not available at the printer's highest print resolution of 2,880 x 720
dpi. With both draft and photo-quality black-only printing modes, 780 can double
as a business printer, though it is slower than non-photo SOHO printers.
The 780 offers six printing modes when connected to a Macintosh or Windows computer running Epson's driver software. Economy mode is for speedy printing of draft text documents; Normal mode is for Web pages, business documents with text and graphics, and similar everyday printing needs (default mode); Fine mode combines speed with quality to create 360 x 720 dpi images; plus three Photo modes for printing photo-quality images at 720-, 1,440-, or 2,880-dpi resolution. Print speeds vary from 8 pages per minute (ppm) for Normal draft text mode, to 7 minutes 21 seconds in high-quality (1,440-dpi) Photo mode, to 18 minutes for letter-size photos at the maximum Photo quality setting (2,880-dpi).