Epson Stylus R300M review: Epson Stylus R300M

Epson Stylus R300M

5 min read

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The bread-box-size Epson Stylus R300M measures 19.6 inches by 10.4 inches by 8.6 inches (W, D, H) and looks like many other inkjets on the market today, with its input tray in the back and its output tray at the bottom. The R300M includes a 2.5-inch color LCD for previewing your digital photos (without the preview monitor, the R300M sells for $50 less). There's also a smaller monochrome LCD on the control panel with a text menu that allows you to resize and crop photos before printing or to change settings such as brightness, saturation, and sharpness--all without a computer attached.


Epson Stylus R300M

The Good

Excellent photo quality; multiple direct-printing options; color preview screen; prints directly onto CD/DVD media.

The Bad

Slow; text quality is only fair.

The Bottom Line

The Epson Stylus R300M photo inkjet printer includes many features sure to please digital photo enthusiasts.
Review summary
Epson's Stylus R300 series demonstrates the quantum leap photo printers have taken recently. The R300M includes a color preview screen and offers a wealth of direct camera-to-printer options. Best of all, in addition to producing high-resolution photo-quality prints, the R300M prints straight onto blank CDs or DVDs--all for less than $250. Intended primarily as a photo-quality printer for the digital camera crowd, the R300M also prints text and graphics. Of course, it doesn't print text and graphics as well as an ordinary inkjet printer, and the R300M's sluggish print speeds also leave something to be desired. But to digital photo enthusiasts, the many pros with this photo printer will outweigh the cons.

The setup process is seamless. The R300M uses a high-speed USB 2.0 port for its connection to a Mac or a PC (USB cable not included), and its drivers work with Windows 98 and above, as well as Mac 8.6 and above. Epson supplies ample printed documentation, such as a Start Here poster that walks you through the initial installation. There's also a quick-reference card for printing without a computer.

What sets the Epson Stylus R300M apart from other photo printers is its various built-in features. Perhaps the most compelling is the built-in CD/DVD tray, which allows you to print directly onto CD or DVD media--one step beyond printing CD or DVD labels. Using the included Epson Print CD software, simply create a design, insert a blank CD or DVD disc, then print. Potential uses include personalizing holiday or vacation photo CDs and saving thousands of dollars on the cover artwork for your garage band's latest CD or DVD release.

The R300M offers an unprecedented level of connectivity and compatibility with cameras and removable media. Below the monochrome LCD, there's a smoked-plastic lid that flips to reveal a bank of removable media cards. The R300M will print directly from Secure Digital, Memory Stick, CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Microdrive, and xD cards. There's also a USB 1.0 port for PictBridge- and USB Direct Print-compatible cameras as well as Zip, CD, and Magneto-Optical drives. The software inside the printer transfers digital photos to a media card or transfers data from a media card directly to your PC or Mac. And if you add Epson's Bluetooth Photo Print Adapter ($69), you can send and print images to the R300M wirelessly from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

When printing from an attached computer, the R300M's print drivers are easy to use and consist of three tabs: Main, Page Layout, and Maintenance. Within these tabs you select paper type, borderless printing, and the nozzle-cleaning function. The Main tab also includes an advanced screen to tweak individual color levels, saturation, and the like.

In tests comparing the R300M against other six-ink photo inkjet printers, CNET Labs found that the R300M printed very slowly. Text print speeds averaged a dismal 1.8 pages per minute (ppm), significantly slower than the HP Photosmart 7960 at 4.6ppm or the Lexmark P707 at 4.2ppm. On photo images, the R300M print speeds averaged 5 minutes per page (mpp)--much slower than the dirt-cheap Canon i560 at 1.8mpp or the more expensive Canon i960 at 2mpp.

With regard to print quality, CNET Labs gave the R300M mixed reviews. When using Epson's inkjet paper, the monochrome text came out very dark to the point of looking oversaturated with ink. Tiny fonts, while legible, appeared spotty and saw-toothed. Color graphics, on the whole, looked fair, with the printer handling color matching quite well. The blended and shaded areas in our test document (both color and black and white), however, were visibly pixelated and not very smooth. But on photos, the R300M really shone. Our complex, high-resolution test document looked extremely crisp--there was only the faintest hint of dithering visible in the background, and skin tones looked smooth and balanced.

CNET Labs obtained a reasonable ink consumption cost of $1.08 per page when printing a high-resolution, complex 8.5x11 test photo. If you're printing mostly 4x6 photos, your real-world costs will be half as much. The R300M uses individual ink cartridges, so you replace each depleted color separately. Black ink cartridges currently run about $17, while individual color inks are $12 each. These ink prices are a smidge more expensive than those of the Canons but well below the prices of the HP 7960's inks.

Inkjet printer text speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Pages per minute  
Canon i560
Lexmark P707
Canon i960
Epson Stylus R300M

Inkjet color photo speed test  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Minutes per page  
Canon i560
Canon i960
Lexmark P707
Epson Stylus R300M

Inkjet printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics  8.5x11 color image
 Canon i560 •••• ••• •••
 Canon i960 ••• •••• ••••
 Epson Stylus R300M •• •• ••••
 Lexmark P707 •••• ••• •••

Epson backs the R300M with an industry-standard one-year warranty, which you can upgrade to two or three years for $70 and $100, respectively. Automated toll-free tech support is available 24/7, but toll-call live tech support is available only Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT for the life of the warranty. Canon, on the other hand, offers toll-free live support Monday through Saturday, but only for the first 90 days.

Epson provides a thick user guide, with everything you need to start printing or to perform more complex printing tasks. Also included are troubleshooting tips. The Web site offers driver downloads, FAQs, manuals, troubleshooting tips, and access to e-mail and fax-back tech support.


Epson Stylus R300M

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 7Support 7