Plenty of good ink-jet printers are available, but if you want to get one for less than £200, you often have to sacrifice printing speed, ink capacity, or even print quality. But Epson is shaking things up with its Stylus C80 – this new ink-jet printer’s impressive list of features, and its outstanding performance and print quality make it an unbelievable buy at £169.
The Stylus C80 is different from any other consumer printer Epson has produced. Under the hood is a new, faster print engine that the company claims is capable of printing as many as 20 black-&-white pages per minute, and 10 colour pages per minute. Unlike most other Epson Stylus printers, which use one tricolour (cyan, magenta, and yellow) cartridge and one black-ink cartridge, the C80 has a separate high-capacity cartridge for each of the four inks.
As is the case with most Epson printers, the C80’s print quality is top-notch. With a maximum resolution of 2,880-x-720dpi, it can print very sharp and brilliantly coloured photographs on Epson’s glossy and semigloss papers. A dedicated, six-colour photo printer will give you better detail and a wider tonal range, but it can’t match the all-around quality the C80 can give you. This is partly due to the C80’s excellent performance on plain paper. In the past, Hewlett-Packard’s ink-jet printers have generally done a much better job of printing text on plain paper than any of Epson’s ink-jets. The C80 is the first Epson printer we’ve seen that prints crisp, clear text on plain paper – even on inexpensive, 20-pound copier paper – at the printer’s lowest resolution (360dpi). And although we can’t confirm Epson’s claims of 70-year print longevity, we can attest to the waterproof nature of the C80 inks.
The C80’s ink cartridge proved to have a long life, too. We printed more than 700 pages of assorted text and graphics documents before we ran out of black ink, and the cyan, magenta, and yellow ink cartridges were still more than 10 per cent full. Because everyone has different printing needs, your ink mileage will vary, but no matter what you print, you will find the C80’s individual ink tanks are a vast improvement over low-capacity tricolour cartridges.
A Mac OS X driver is available – for OS X 10.1 and later – as a download from Epson’s Web site. The only problem we had was an occasional printing glitch in OS X, where a document would not print on the first try because of an error. (Epson is working on the issue.)
The Stylus C80 is the most exciting printer we’ve seen in a long time: it’s an excellent general-purpose ink-jet that’s equally suited to printing spreadsheets, long documents, newsletters, and photographs. What makes the Stylus C80 so notable, however, is that Epson has wrapped great performance, print quality, and print longevity in such a low-priced package.