Lab-Quality Color Photo Printing on Demand

SAN FRANCISCO (08/28/2000) - Looking for a printer with image quality so good you'll never again need to trudge to a photo lab for color prints or enlargements? The US$899 Stylus Photo 2000P from Epson America Inc. doesn't just produce lab-quality output: Epson says prints created with a breakthrough pigmented six-color ink technology could last up to 200 years. Designed to generate images suitable for presentation and resale, this printer should interest professionals and photography enthusiasts who want to move away from commercial photo processing.

In my tests of this shipping model, prints made on Epson's Premium Semigloss paper stock rivaled photos developed by a photo lab. Scanned photos printed on the printer looked as good as the originals or even better. Color-image output was rich and clear, with realistic colors and accurate flesh tones. Epson doesn't recommend the unit for black-and-white photos.

The Stylus Photo 2000P can handle paper sizes from 3.5 by 3.5 inches to 13 by 44 inches; Epson itself sells a wide range of custom resin-coated photographic papers and fine-art media.

Print speeds are relatively fast; in my tests, an 8-by-10-inch print took between 4 and 6 minutes, depending on the settings I selected. The printer uses two cartridges--one for black ($33), and one for the five other colors ($38).

This printer isn't appropriate for churning out text or routine business graphics, but it raises the bar for ink jet printing of photographs.

--David F. Farkas

Stylus Photo 2000P

PRO: Incredible color prints rival output from a photo lab.

CON: Doesn't handle black-and-white images well; expensive.

VALUE: Best for serious photo enthusiasts and professionals.

Street price: $899

Epson America

800/463-7766

www.epson.com.

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