Pros: Produces the highest-quality photos available for the price. Many extras including colour LCD screen, CD/DVD printing and card slots.
Cons: Photo printing is slow. Image quality not in same league as Epson’s own R800. Direct printing technology often irrelevant.
The Epson Photo R300M possesses many features that make printing and managing your photography – with or without a PC – more convenient. The £135 plus VAT printer has two 2.5-inch LCDs: a monochrome display on the control panel for viewing menus, and a colour 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 colour and brightness, date- and time-stamping, cropping, and printing jewel-case inserts for your CD-Rs.
The colour LCD displays images from memory cards or from a connected digital camera. The three media slots read the most popular memory-card formats. The R300M is also available without the colour LCD – as the R300 – for £110 plus VAT, though the extra £25 is worth it.
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 technology. Manufacturers whose cameras support USB Direct Print include Casio, Minolta, and Nikon. 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 or computer uses Bluetooth, you can outfit the R300M with the same wireless technology for an extra £50 plus VAT. These technologies are well implemented but largely irrelevant if you own a computer.
Slow off the mark
Hooking the R300M up to a PC is 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 – 2ppm slower than your average photo inkjet. The printer did better with photos, but at less than half a page per minute, it was still slower than most photo printers.
Nevertheless, the R300M’s glossy colour photos are a major selling point. The printer reproduces lifelike flesh tones and shows smooth texturing. However, the photos aren’t up to the same standard as the output from the R800 in terms of detail and accuracy. Coated, non-glossy inkjet paper produces usable contact sheets. Text on ordinary paper looked greyish, but had clean letterforms.
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 both standard and 8cm discs, feeds discs into the printer. Epson provides an excellent setup poster, a card with information on printing without a computer, a long and detailed printed manual, and an on-screen reference guide in HTML.