Published on November 29th, 2011 | by Greg0
Epson Prints Your Holidays With The Artisan 730
Christmas and holiday cards. Photo prints of the family. Documents of every shape, size, and style. Tis the season to be printing!
But printer costs are tricky. The printing industry is infamous for their “razor and blade” model, where the printers themselves might not cost much, but the ink quickly adds up. That’s why we pay careful attention to the “lifetime cost” or longer term cost-per-page metrics, which can help make a printer a good investment. Generally, Epson printers offer some of the best bang for your buck, as we’ve seen in the past. Last holiday season, we checked out both the Artisan series, as well as the Workforce line, which offer slightly different feature sets and are aimed at the audience you’d expect from their names.
This year, we’ve got the Epson Artisan 730, a reasonable upgrade to the excellent printer we saw a year ago. Office users may want to stick with the speedier Workforce line (we saw a sibling about six months ago that was one of the best printers that we have seen so far). But those who print a lot of photos should definitely stick with this version, as it is perhaps the best all-around multi-purpose photo printer in this price range. It might not offer a fax capability, but if you’re willing to lose that feature, you get everything else: scanning, copying, and apparently achieving the “World’s Fastest 4×6 photo print speeds”- still taking about ten seconds, but that’s better than the competition and the prints are amazing.
Black and white print speeds are a reasonable, if not zippy, 9.6 ISO pages per minute, and around 9.1 for color sheets. Like many printers today, wireless N is now built-in, and fairly easy to use on a network with minimal fuss. Mac users on OSX and PC users on any recent version of Windows are in luck, we didn’t try out Linux printing. But we did try the card reader, which supports SD, Compact Flash, and Memory Stick camera memory cards. Driver installation still takes a while- not long for basic printing, but the other functions require their suite of software. It’s worth it, though, for some of the best photo prints we’ve seen, especially when using Epson’s variety of custom paper. The paper tray was our only real issue- it felt a bit cheap, and wasn’t quite large enough for us. But it does hold both photo paper and regular paper at the same time, and a lovely LCD screen helped make up for it. Plus the touch screen actually worked, making it simple for most users to handle tasks right from the printer.
We haven’t talked costs yet. The printer itself comes with pretty spacious print cartridges, and will set you back around $170 online at the moment. A high capacity black cartridge costs only about $17, and you’ll get around 520 pages out of it. AirPrint and CloudPrint support are not common yet, but the Artisan 730 offers them, and though we didn’t test thoroughly, our Android and iPhone prints came out nicely. It’s not a small, compact printer, and the scanner doesn’t handle random stuff through the feeder (almost no all-in-one does), but we photographers and those who love them- this is a great gift and wonderful addition to your desk or that of a loved one.