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Review: Epson Stylus Photo 890 Reviews
This is actually more of a mini-review, given that it's only a few paragraphs long!

I've held off on getting a new color inkjet printer for quite a while. Until yesterday, I used an Epson Stylus 800, which I purchased nearly five years ago. Inkjets have improved greatly in that time, and the combination of its serial port interface and Epson's lack of drivers for OS X doomed the machine. It served me well, but it was time for replacement ... and it was time to remove another reason for booting into OS 9!

After doing a little research, I picked the Epson Stylus Photo 890. This was based primarily on website research and instore demos of both Epson and HP models.

**NOTE: That link will not go to the correct page, due to Epson's use of session cookies. Click on InkJets link and then find the 890 in the list (near the bottom) for more info on the printer.

If you're considering a new inkjet printer for OS X, read the rest of the article for my impressisons of the Epson Stylus Photo 890.

I was hoping to find an AppleTalk-capable Epson printer (and they are avaialble), but the combination of features in this printer outweighed the lack of AppleTalk support. So I connected it via a USB cable, and the driver installation was quick and easy, except for the required restart at the end of the install. When I opened PrintCenter, I now had "Epson USB" and "Epson AppleTalk" pop-ups, and the 890 was listed in the USB section, as hoped.

The driver works well, and seems reasonably full-featured. You can pick from eight types of paper, and a mix of resolutions up to 2880dpi. I selected a photo printer, as most of my color printing is images; we use a Brother 1270N for black and white text. The test images I printed (none on glossy stock; just inkjet paper) all looked great, and the printer is extremely quiet and quick. My Epson 800 seemed incredibly noisy by comparison; this one makes more of a 'whoosh' sound than anything else.

It handled some relatively complex images (the cover of my Guidebook, for example) with ease, and the output looked good even at the 'rough draft' 360dpi setting. Text looks reasonably good, although there's just no comparison to the laser printer, at least at the lower resolutions I was using. I had no issues with background printing; the printer continued to output smoothly even while I kept the machine busy with other tasks.

Waiting five years between upgrades really makes the improvements in technology noticeable. I can't wait to try some glossy paper images!

I've only run into one gotcha, and it's very repeatable. Every time I submit a job, it fails to print on the first try. I can then enter PrintCenter and tell it to retry the job, and everything comes out fine. I haven't spent much time debugging this, and it's more of an annoyance than anything else.

At $299, this is not Epson's cheapest printer, but Epson is currently offering a $50 rebate, and the consumables are much cheaper than they were for my Stylus 800. A color ink pack is $18; the last time I bought one for the 800 (earlier this year), it was around $25.

Overall Impression
I'm very happy with this printer, although I suspect almost any new printer would have seems amazing given how long I had the previous model! To be honest, I'm still not certain I can enunciate all the differences between the various Epson models, but when we tested in the store, the 890 seemed to have the best combination of speed, image quality, and noise level. If it only had AppleTalk support (so that I could print from the wireless iBook), it would be perfect for my needs.

I'm not sure how well the 890 would work in a higher-volume environment, but for our occasional needs at home, the 890 looks to be a winner. I'll update this article as I get more experience with the printer ... especially if I manage to resolve the one 'gotcha' on initial print job submittal.
  • Currently 3.50 / 5
  You rated: 4 / 5 (2 votes cast)

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Is Classic running?
Authored by: Brian on Dec 17, '01 09:37:18AM

I recently bought an Epson printer and noticed the same problem of having to send a print job twice before it worked. I noticed that this seemed to only happen when Classic was on.

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Is Classic running?
Authored by: Joachim on Dec 17, '01 01:54:02PM

It's my impression also that Classic seems to be a problem. I have an Epson 900 which gives trouble i.e. printing only on second start or even not at all while classic is running. Don't know whether this is a driver problem or the OS. Well, seems a minor quirk after all.

But: Sometimes my Epson 900 produces very ugly smugde marks at the left of a page (right side as it comes out of the printer). Obviously some black ink tends to drop at those rolls that feed the paper through. The printer developed that misbehaviour only after a few months (well, more after a year or so) of use. Cleaning didn't help much so far. Would be interesting whether newer Epsons develop the same problem over time.


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Epson 820
Authored by: Anonymous on Dec 17, '01 03:12:10PM

I would suggest going with the 820 for bang-for-buck. It has the 5-color ink cartridges for more accurate color, it's got 2880*720 dpi output on glossy and 1440*720 output on plain paper, beautiful prints. It's also available for $150 with a $50 rebate, for a total price of $100 for this great new printer. It's also reasonably fast and quieter than previous models. Ink carts for this are available at for $15 for both color and black carts. The drivers are kinda buggy, requiring you to stop and retry all print jobs at least once when printing, but this is not too bad, and it's definitely a nice printer, and by far the best for the money. has it for $150.

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Epson 820
Authored by: SeanAhern on Dec 17, '01 08:31:49PM

I agree. Nice printer. I have been very happy with its functionality, colors, and speed.

What I'm not so happy about is Epson's support for it under OS X. I had to dig for several hours on Epson's web site to find the drivers for it (Classic and OS X). Their Mac OS X page doesn't even mention the 820, even though the printer has been out for a couple months now.

The driver in Classic works flawlessly - doing color correction for prints even better than Photoshop does. It supports printing all the way to the edges of the paper, a wonderful feature when making prints.

But the driver in OS X is annoying. Yes, it works, but I have to do what most of you have been doing - restarting the job in the printer queue after the first one fails. And there is no support for all of the things that the Classic driver does: custom paper sizes, zero-margin printouts.

I'll mention again the annoyance of Epson's web site, which seems to have no information about the 820 and OS X together anywhere.

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Connecting through router question
Authored by: germ on Dec 18, '01 01:06:21AM

Does anyone know if this printer would work attached to the parallel port of a router? I will need to access the printer via LPR. Do the drivers still work or do I need a PostScript printer?

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borderless printing / head cleaning
Authored by: pgee on Dec 18, '01 08:35:23AM

The current epson OSX drivers (1.0) don't seem to allow borderless photo printing which is a huge minus. I still have to boot into classic in order to print photos that look like photo lab prints.

Also I only use my printer occasionally, and I have found that I have to run the head cleaning utility often. My photos often print with one or two colors missing.

Other than that I think that the Epson printers are the best out there when you compare price, print quality, and features. I have an Epson Photo 780 that I bought a couple of months ago for about $100. I don't think it is available any longer. I agree that an Epson Photo 820 is your next best bet for a new printer.

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