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The Epson Stylus Photo R380 offers a wide range of project and feature options for the amateur photo enthusiast. At $200, it's more expensive than most standard snapshot printers, but the added money gets you an inkjet printer that prints still images and still captures from video, while also printing on compatible CDs/DVDs. And it does this all with great image quality. Dare we say it? Using this printer was fun, not something we often use to describe a printer. The similarly priced Canon iP6700D provides comparable image quality but fewer features overall.
The Epson Stylus Photo R380 printer is about the size of an inkjet all-in-one device--rather bulky for a single-task machine. The silver and dark gray body won't win any design awards, but it doesn't offend. With both paper trays folded out, it measures 17.7 inches wide, 21 inches deep, and 11.1 inches tall and weighs a smidge less than 16 pounds. A lid resembling a scanner lid opens to reveal the printhead and ink-tank compartment.
Paper-handling options are limited: a single paper support folds in the rear for input, and a foldout tray in the front has extension panels for output. The input tray can hold up to 120 sheets of plain paper or 20 sheets of photo paper, so if you have a big print job, you'll find yourself standing by to refill the tray. Next to the output tray is a lever that adjusts the tray's position: up for normal output and down for CD/DVD printing. Conversely, the Canon Pixma iP6700D provides two input sources (cassette and tray), which is a convenient setup if you often switch between paper types or regularly print very long documents.
Above the output tray, you'll find a USB port for connecting PictBridge-enabled cameras or USB storage devices, as well as two media card slots that accept most common types of memory cards. (The memory card slots are hidden behind a black, translucent plastic door.) The control panel resides above these inputs. Two mode buttons let you switch between CD/DVD print mode and memory card mode. The setup button takes you to a menu where you can adjust the settings or perform maintenance on the printer. When viewing photos on a memory card, the display/crop buttons switches between allowing you to crop a single photo and zooming out to view 16 images at once--handy if you have a lot of photos on a card. The print settings button brings up a menu that lets you make adjustments to image quality, paper type and size, and layout. You can increase and decrease the number of prints you want on the fly with the plus and minus buttons. Rounding out the control panel is an attractive 3.5-inch color LCD.
The R380 is easy to install and comes equipped with only a USB port for connectivity. It uses a six-ink system with individual tanks, which is great for saving money and reducing waste. The ink-tank compartment is labeled so that you know where each tank lives. All the tanks are available in both regular and high-capacity versions--the regular black costs slightly more than $16 to replace, while the regular color tanks cost about $14.25. Each of the high-capacity tanks costs $20.
The feature set of the Epson Stylus Photo R380 will keep photo hobbyists happy for quite a while. When printing from a memory card, you can click through each picture individually, selecting the number of copies you want, and making adjustments along the way. Specifically, you can crop a photo; choose the type and size of paper; change the output quality; alter the layout (border, borderless, 1-up, 2-up, 20-up, and so on); apply a sepia or black-and-white filter; make adjustments to settings such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, and saturation; and add a date to the print.
If you have a large number of photos on a card, scrolling through them one by one could get tedious, so the R380 offers a zoomed-out view, which shows 20 thumbnails at once on the LCD. Using the thumbnail view, you can quickly set the number of prints you want for each picture and make the above-mentioned adjustments to your chosen pictures. Another alternative is to print an index sheet of all the photos on the card. Because the printer lacks a scanner, the index serves only as a reference. The thumbnails are helpfully labeled with the image number, however, which allows you to quickly scroll through the images on the LCD to the correct one. Alternatively, you can choose to print all the photos on your card or just the ones shot on a particular date. The process for printing photos from a USB drive is the same as we've just described.