Epson Stylus Photo R290
Inexpensive, efficient printing
- Cheap running costs, CD/DVD printing
- Poor build quality, some quality problems
The R290 is an inexpensive and efficient low-end addition to Epson’s Stylus Photo range. Although quality isn’t always up to scratch, the printer will suit basic photo printing needs.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
Epson's Stylus Photo R290 is designed to fulfil basic photo printing needs for families and home users. In this respect, it manages to do a competent job. However, users should be wary of some print quality issues and problems with the printer's overall build quality.
A continually annoying aspect of Epson's products is their relatively poor build quality. This was particularly the case with the Epson Stylus CX5500 and it seems the R290 suffers similar problems to a degree. The printer feels very plastic and somewhat fragile, leading to some maintenance issues. Solving a paper jam issue we encountered during testing meant physically moving the printhead with some force, and then having to rip the paper out. Experiences like this lead us to feel that there could be issues with this printer's longevity.
The R290's direct CD/DVD print feature is a welcome inclusion, thought we weren't impressed with its implementation. Unlike the Epson Stylus Photo RX690, which has an automatically adjustable CD tray, the R290 requires the user to remove the paper tray and fit it in a different position in order to feed the CD into the printer. This was difficult the first time because of our fear of breaking the tray hinges, and remained an annoyance on subsequent uses. Nevertheless, the resulting image is of an acceptable quality.
Print speeds were fairly impressive. Printing full text documents at a draft quality setting, the R290 managed speeds of up to 23 pages per minute, slowing to 5.4ppm at normal quality. Text documents with graphical elements were printed at the same speeds, while 4x6in photos printed in less than 30sec at normal quality (this slowed to 1min 44sec at best quality). As opposed to some HP models, there is a highly noticeable difference in ink usage and quality amongst various quality settings. Generally we found the most useful settings to be normal quality for text documents and best quality for photos.
With this in mind, we found printing quality to be mostly adequate. Documents had readable text, though for the most part it was messy. The cheaper Epson Stylus CX5500 multifunction had better text results, something which may be due to the R290's use of six rather than four inks. Colour accuracy was adequate for the most part, though the R290 had some problems with dark-to-light gradients in our test photo, leading to discolouration and banding in some areas. This was mostly noticeable in A4 photos, so the printer should suffice for those who are simply seeking to print 4x6in media.
A running cost of 20c per printed page means that the R290 is efficient and inexpensive in the long term. While quality may be an issue for some, the R290 is a capable and inexpensive option for basic photo printing needs.
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PCW Evaluation Team
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