Stylus Photo R340
Epson’s latest addition to its photo printer range, the Stylus Photo R340, slips in near the top of the A4 inkjet range, coming in just below the high-end R800.
It’s a versatile all-round device, with built-in memory card slots, a PictBridge port and the ability to print on CD and DVD media and up to A4 output on paper. However, we wouldn’t recommend using this as an everyday document printer, as plain text output is disappointing both in terms of quality and speed. The ink spiders quite badly on plain paper, resulting in a lack of crispness and clarity, and at normal output quality it only produced two pages per minute.
That said, the Photo in the model name is an indication of the true purpose of this printer. In this respect the R340 doesn’t disappoint. Despite only having six ink colours instead of the eight found in the higher end R800, photo quality output is top notch. It’s hard to distinguish from traditional photo prints, with spot-on colour accuracy and all but invisible ink droplets. A 6 x 4 inch photo takes just 1 minute 34 seconds to print.
Printing direct from a memory card or camera is perhaps not quite as straightforward as we’d have liked, as the R340 has a slightly bewildering array of buttons and menu options, as well as a rather strange user interface. But once you’ve played around with it for a bit it’s relatively easy to get to grips with and there are some powerful features. For example, the R340 gives you the ability to apply image-enhancement functions and adjust options such as contrast, sharpness and saturation all independently of a computer.
If you print via a Mac you get Epson’s intuitive driver software, which makes it easy to select the best settings for your output. You also get Epson’s large array of additional software, including a Creativity Suite and Easy Photo Print – a nice touch but largely wasted on iPhoto users. However, there is a useful tool called Epson Print CD, which allows you to take advantage of the CD-printing capabilities built into the R340 and Print Image Framer, for creating custom borders on your pictures.
Epson’s range of photo printers continues to grow and it can be tricky to select the model that best suits your needs. The Stylus Photo R340 is a good option if you are looking for a versatile photo printer that allows you to output images from a range of sources. Image quality is as superb as we’ve come to expect from Epson. However, before buying you should be aware that due to the poor text output this printer is far from a real all-rounder. In fact, you will need a second printer if you want to create top-quality documents as well as photos.