Epson Stylus Photo R300M
At a Glance
The Epson Photo R300M possesses many features that make printing and managing your digital photos--with or without a PC--more convenient. The $229 printer has two 2.5-inch LCDs: a monochrome display on the control panel for viewing menus, and a color LCD for previewing images before printing. Among the menu options are commands for printing multiple images (or multiple copies of the same image) on one page, correcting color and brightness, date- and time-stamping, cropping, and printing jewel-case inserts for your CD-Rs. The color LCD displays images from memory cards or from a connected digital camera. The three media slots read most popular memory-card formats.
Via the port on the front of the printer, you can connect and print directly from a digital camera that supports Canon's PictBridge or Epson's USB Direct Print. Manufacturers whose cameras support USB Direct Print include Casio, Minolta, and Nikon. Similarly, you can connect a USB device, such as a Zip drive, to the port and copy files to it from an inserted memory card. If your CD burner supports USB 2.0, you can burn the memory card's files directly onto a CD-R disc, using the printer's menus. And if your camera uses Bluetooth, you can outfit the R300M with the same wireless technology for an extra $69.
Hooking the R300M up to a PC was a simple matter of popping in the driver CD and waiting for the installer to request the USB cable. Once we got it working, however, the R300M turned in rather slow printing speeds. We clocked it printing text at 2.6 pages per minute--2 ppm slower than the average of recently tested photo ink jets. The R300M did better with photos; but at less than half a page per minute, it was still slightly slower than the photo printer average. Nevertheless, we loved its glossy color photos, which reproduced lifelike flesh tones and showed very smooth texturing. Text on ordinary paper looked slightly gray, but had clean letterforms. On plain paper, color and gray-scale photos seemed bland and somewhat foggy, though they appeared much more lively and precise on coated, nonglossy ink-jet paper.
The R300M can print onto specially coated CDs and DVDs. (These discs are widely available but cost a bit more than ordinary media.) The included tray, designed to handle full-size media and 8cm discs, feeds one disc at a time into the printer. Epson provides software for laying out artwork to grace your discs, too.
Epson provides an excellent setup poster; a card with information on printing without a computer; a long and detailed printed manual that includes coverage of using Bluetooth and printing CDs; and an excellent on-screen reference guide in HTML format. The printer comes with Epson's Film Factory software, a combination photo editor and template program.
Owners of digital cameras who want to print homemade discs will appreciate the Epson R300M's easy-to-use features.