Epson printer output rivals photographs

June 22, 1998|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Color printers have come a long way since my slow, noisy and prone-to-overheat dot-matrix, the one that used a multicolored ribbon.

Today's offerings produce color printouts that not only rival but are superior to color photographs.

Take Epson's newest Stylus Photo EX inkjet printer. Start with its extremely high 1,440 dots-per-inch ability. Epson uses a micro piezo, or pressure-delivery, system of the ink as opposed to the more popular inkjet thermal method. According to Epson, this allows the printer to deliver the finer 1,440 resolution.

The quick-drying ink sets in less than a second. And the printer adds two colors, light cyan and light magenta, to the four primaries of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The two extra colors yield smoother, almost continuous gradations and more natural flesh tones.

The EX print head has a faster initialization cycle than its predecessor, so you can be up and printing almost immediately.

Although you can use it to print high-quality black-and-white or color text in a pinch, the EX is primarily designed for printing color photographs. The EX produces some of the best color examples I've ever seen in a printer selling for about $500. In fact, the samples I saw were better than printouts from dye-sublimation printers in the $50,000 range.

The EX can print on paper sizes up to 11.7-by-17 inches. The EX prints nicely on ordinary paper but using Epson's special glossy photo paper gives everything the look and feel of a real color photograph. Another nice touch is the extra capacity of the black ink cartridge. Printers use more black ink than any other color, so not having to throw out a whole cartridge just because the black portion is empty saves money. Among the included software is ZTC Adobe PhotoShop 4.0 LE, Extensis Portfolio, PictureWorks, Spin Panorama and Photo Sheet.

The included print driver also is improved and lets you put up to four images on one page for draft copies and personalized watermarks. An on-screen ink detection-system displays ink levels and a "Photo Enhance" feature automatically improves over- or underexposed images.

If you have an Epson Photo PC 600 digital camera, you're in for another treat. You can hook the camera directly to the EX and print your photos directly to the printer without using a computer.

The EX works with Windows and Macintosh with simultaneous autoswitching between both platforms. This is one nice printer.

For information, contact Epson America at 800-463-7766 or surf to www.epson.com

Those who use a personal digital assistant might be interested in styluses to replace the mundane versions that come with a PDA. I now have discovered another stylus replacement, which you wear.

You put it on your finger just like a ring (it looks like sterling silver). But with a simple twist and placement on the tip of your finger, it extends a rounded nub that contacts the screen of your PDA.

It's totally intuitive, and writing with your fingertip is both natural and ergonomically more efficient than holding a stylus.

The FingerTip Stylus, from Concept Kitchen, comes in one size - you can shape it to fit your finger. For $19.95, you can own a piece of jewelry that lets you look good and write well.

Contact Concept Kitchen at 415-252-3333 or surf to www.conceptkitchen.com

Pub Date: 6/22/98

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