Small Format Printer Buyer’s guide

LCD display; and direct printing from cameras, media cards, and/or through a computer link. Output quality from all of the all-in-ones covered in this guide can be outstanding on matte and gloss papers. Depending on the specific model and types of documents you are printing, cost per print will vary. Many different ink types (all dye, all pigment, and hybrid) and cartridge configurations are used in all-in-ones, so investigate them before purchasing.

There are many models to choose from in this category from Canon, Dell, Epson, HP, Kodak, Lexmark, and others. Look at the specs for the scanner (some models scan both prints and film); and read reviews from others who own the printers. Some printers have two paper trays, which allow users to keep two types of paper (such as bond paper and photo paper) loaded at the same time.

For a more in-depth overview of factors to consider before buying a desktop printer, see this Photo.net article:
http://www.photo.net/learn/printing/guide-to-buying-a-printer/small-printers/

Epson PictureMate Show

epson_picturemate-show. Overview: The Epson PictureMate Show is a 4-inch-wide photo-quality printer with many features for both printing and image display. It especially shines in one area: making water-resistant long lasting 4 × 6-inch photo prints on just about any inkjet photo paper in under a minute per print. Its compact design also helps avoid many of the feeding and borderless printing problems common with many other printers that accept 4 × 6 sheet sizes.

Selected features:

  • 6-color Epson Claria “Hi-Definition” dye-based inks have excellent color gamut and longevity on many matte and gloss/semi-gloss papers (80-100 years or longer)*.
  • Ability to make prints up to 4 × 12 inches on semi-gloss, gloss or matte papers without swapping black ink cartridges.
  • Has an articulating, high resolution 7-inch screen and remote control that makes viewing and browsing through images much easier compared with many other printers containing on-board LCDs.
  • Internal software options allow for many effects and print features, including: animated slide shows, red-eye reduction, cropping, and contact sheets.
  • Includes card slots that can be used to print directly from images on removable media (camera JPGs, not RAW files), as well as a USB slot for thumbdrives.
  • Direct computer connectivity via USB, and an optional Bluetooth adapter is available for printing from phones and other Bluetooth devices.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to almost anyone who wants a quality 4-inch-wide color printer that is compact, easy to use and portable. The Epson PictureMate Charm is a less expensive printer that has many of the same features, but lacks the 7-inch-wide screen (see an upcoming buyer’s guide for a description of the PictureMate Charm). However, the PictureMate Charm has an optional battery for on-the-go printing, so that’s something to consider.

The supplies for the PictureMate show (and many other compact printers from Epson and other manufacturers) are sold in a kit that includes both ink and paper. The advantage is that you know your cost of materials (about 20-40 cents per 4 × 6 print), but the disadvantage is that your media choices are a bit limited. You will also generally find that the ink cartridges that are bundled in packs with paper will almost always make more than the number of prints stated on the box. To make the most of the remaining ink, you can either cut down larger sheets to four inches wide, or buy packages of compatible paper.

8.5 × 11 Class Printers

Epson Artisan 837

epson_artisan-837. Overview: The Epson Artisan 837 is an 8.5-inch-wide photo-quality all-in-one printer with a laundry list of software and hardware features. Its strengths include its sleek look, print quality, print speed, large LCD display, CD/DVD tray and its relatively small footprint.

Selected features:

  • 6-color Epson Claria “Hi-Definition” dye-based inks (individual cartridges) have excellent color gamut and longevity on many matte and gloss/semi-gloss papers (80-100 years or longer)*.
  • Ability to make prints quickly (as fast as 10 seconds for a 4×6) on semi-gloss, gloss or matte papers without swapping black ink cartridges.
  • Dual paper tray design allows you to hold both letter-sized photo or bond (typing) paper, as well as 4×6 or 5×7 photo paper.
  • Scanning and Fax capabilities, including the ability to send faxes in color.
  • Includes card slots that can read and print directly from images on removable media (camera JPGs, not RAW files).
  • 7.8" touch-panel display for easier navigation through menus, with a 3.5" LCD to preview photos.
  • Innovative CD/DVD tray for printing directly on inkjet-compatible media.
  • Extensive image enhancement options, including auto photo correction, red-eye removal and color restoration.
  • Direct computer connectivity via USB and Ethernet, and built-in wireless (WiFi Certified n) allows network printing, scanning and memory card slot reading.
  • Ability to print from mobile devices using Epson Connect.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to almost anyone who wants a quality 8.5-inch-wide all-in-one color printer that looks great and that prints quickly on a wide range of papers at a very high quality level. I’ve had some hands-on time with the last few generations of Epson Artisan printers, and I’ve been very impressed by the output quality, as well as the number of creative options, including the ability to make some amazing printed materials directly from the touch-panel display using your photos. These include contact sheets, CD/DVD jewel case layouts, greeting cards, graph paper, lined notepaper and coloring book pages. The Epson Artisan 730 offers many similar options at a lower price point (see below).

Epson Artisan 730

epson_artisan-730. Overview: Like the Epson Artisan 837 reviewed above, the Epson Artisan 730 is an 8.5-inch-wide photo-quality all-in-one printer with many software and hardware features. The primarily differences between the two printers are the lack of Fax capability on the Artisan 730, and the screen size (2.5" LCD on the Artisan 730 vs. the 7.8" touch-panel and 3.5" LCD for previewing photos on the Artisan 837).

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to almost anyone who wants a quality 8.5-inch-wide all-in-one color printer that looks great and that prints quickly on a wide range of papers at a very high quality level. If you don’t need faxing capability in an all-in-one, and if the smaller LCD display suits your needs, you can save quite a bit over the Epson Artisan 837.

13×19 Class Printers

Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II

canon_pro9000_mk2. Overview: The Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II is a sturdy 13-inch-wide dye-based inkjet printer. I’ve seen many prints made using the printer, and have found the print quality to be outstanding, with fine detail, smooth transitions, minimal gloss differential and very saturated colors. The main advantages of the printer include its 10 dye-based inks (which give it a huge color gamut), as well as its fast print speeds.

Selected features:

  • Outstanding image quality and color gamut with a 2 picoliter minimum drop size.
  • Very fast print speeds (just 2-3 minutes for a photo-quality 13×19-inch print).
  • 8-color ChromaLife 100 inks (8 individual cartridges) in 14 ml cartridges, with a wide color gamut.
  • Dye-based black ink allows high quality printing on matte or glossy papers.
  • A top-loading high capacity feeder can hold up to 150 sheets of plain paper, and a front straight-through manual sheet feeder allows for single sheet loading of media up to 1.2 mm (about the thickness of a 4-ply mat).
  • Connectivity via USB 2.0 and PictBridge.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to professional or advanced amateur photographers or other artists who print on a semi-regular basis (at least a few 8×10 prints per week). The PIXMA Pro 9000’s ink cartridges are relatively small (about 14ml), though comparable to the cartridge sizes of most 8.5- and 13-inch wide printers. However, based on user reports and an ink usage study, the cost of ink to cover a typical 8×10 inch area on a sheet of paper should average only about 60 cents.. Some negative points are no roll paper support, no Ethernet/WiFi, and no support for printing on CDs/DVDs. Also, the dye-based ink used in the printer will not last as long as pigment-based prints (especially when displayed), and it will take longer for the inks to “settle” after printing compared with most pigment-based inksets, making proofing a bit more difficult.*

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II

canon_pro9500_mk2. Overview: The Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II is a well-built 13-inch-wide pigment-based inkjet printer. I’ve produced a number of prints on the printer, and have found print quality to be excellent, with fine detail, smooth transitions and saturated colors. The main advantage of the printer is its 10 LUCIA pigment inks, which allows users to switch back and forth between gloss, semi-gloss and matte papers without any delay or wasted ink.

Selected features:

  • Outstanding color and black and white image quality.
  • 10-color LUCIA pigment inks (10 individual cartridges) in 14 ml cartridges, with a wide color gamut and expected print longevity of 100-200 years or longer.*
  • Matte and Photo Black inks on-board at all times, with no ink usage when switching between the two.
  • High quality monochrome printing with three black inks, with the ability to adjust toning in the driver.
  • A top-loading high capacity feeder can hold up to 150 sheets of plain paper, from 4 × 6 to 13 × 19 inches, and a front straight-through manual sheet feeder allows for single sheet loading of media up to 1.2 mm (about the thickness of a 4-ply mat).
  • Connectivity via USB 2.0 and PictBridge.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to professional or advanced amateur photographers or other artists who print on a semi-regular basis (at least a few 8×10 prints per week) and who want long-lasting high-quality prints. The PIXMA Pro 9500’s ink cartridges are relatively small (about 14ml), though comparable to the cartridge sizes of most 8.5- and 13-inch wide printers. However, based on my own experience and a published ink usage study, the cost of ink to cover a typical 8×10 inch area on a sheet of paper should average only about 80 cents.** Some downsides of the PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II are no roll paper support, no support for printing on CDs/DVDs and no Ethernet/WiFi. Also, print times are quite slow compared with the competition. A 13×19 print will take about 7-10 minutes to complete depending upon the print quality mode you choose.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000

epson_r3000. Overview: The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 is a 13-inch-wide pigment-based inkjet printer built a lot like the pro-level Epson printers from their Stylus Pro series. The color and black and white prints I’ve seen produced on the printer are sharp, with very smooth transitions and bright, saturated color. The print output speed is also very respectable – about 2.5 minutes for a 13 × 19-inch print in “SuperFine” mode.

Selected features:

  • Outstanding image quality and color gamut using Epson’s AccuPhoto HD2 Image Technology and a 2 picoliter minimum drop size.
  • 8-color UltraChrome K3 pigment inks (9 total cartridges) in 25.9 ml pressurized carts, with a wide color gamut and expected print longevity of 100-200 years or longer.*
  • Automatic switching between Matte and Photo Black inks, with minimal ink usage when making the switch (about 1 or 3 ml of ink is used when switching, depending on whether the change is from Photo to Matte Black or vice-versa).
  • Monochrome printing with the Epson Advanced Black and White mode (and three black inks) produces very even-toned prints, with the ability to adjust toning dramatically in the driver.
  • A top-loading high capacity feeder can hold up to 120 sheets of plain paper, from 3.5 × 5 to 13 × 44 inches; a second top-loading manual sheet feeder is optimized for fine-art papers; and a front straight-through manual sheet feeder allows for single sheet loading of media up to 1.3 mm (about the thickness of a 4-ply mat).
  • Fast print speeds (about 2.5 minutes for a 13 × 19-inch print in “SuperFine” mode.)
  • Roll paper capability.
  • Three standard connectivity options: USB 2.0, Ethernet and wireless (built-in WiFi).
  • Support for inkjet-compatible CD/DVD printing.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to almost any professional or advanced amateur photographer or other artist who prints on a semi-regular basis (at least a few 8×10 prints per week). At over 25 ml each, the R3000’s ink cartridges are a welcome change from years of smaller cartridges seen in 8.5- and 13-inch wide printers from not only Epson, but from most other manufacturers. Also, the roll paper capability and CD/DVD support make it even more versatile than it’s big brother, the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. However, keep in mind the printer’s weight; at 35 lbs., it’s not as portable as some other 13-inch-wide printers.

Epson Stylus Photo R2000

epson_r2000. Overview: The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 is a very well-built 13-inch-wide pigment-based inkjet printer. Print quality is fast, detailed and vibrant (especially on semi-gloss and glossy papers), and I particularly like that the Matte and Photo Black inks are always installed, which means that no manual switching of inks is necessary to get good quality prints on both matte and gloss/semi-gloss papers. Prints made with the Gloss Optimizer enabled on smooth glossy papers are almost mirror-like in appearance, with less gloss differential, metamerism and bronzing compared with semi-gloss and gloss prints not coated with the Gloss Optimizer.

Selected features:

  • Seven UltraChrome Hi-Gloss II pigment inks for excellent print sharpness, color gamut and longevity (100-200 years or longer)* plus a Gloss Optimizer cartridge for better protection and a more even surface on glossy papers.
  • Ability to get high quality results on matte and gloss papers without swapping black ink cartridges.
  • Prints on inkjet-compatible CDs and DVDs.
  • Includes a built-in roll paper holder, rear paper feed for thicker papers, a top media feed for sheets as narrow as 3.5 inches wide, and borderless printing support for many paper sizes.
  • Print output speed is very fast: under 2 minutes for an 11×14-inch print in “SuperFine” mode.
  • A top-loading high capacity feeder can hold up to 120 sheets of plain paper, from 3.5 × 5 to 13 × 44 inches; a second top-loading manual sheet feeder is optimized for fine-art papers; and a front straight-through manual sheet feeder allows for single sheet loading of media up to 1.3 mm (about the thickness of a 4-ply mat).
  • Two standard connectivity options: USB 2.0 and FireWire.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend this printer to anyone who wants a quality 13-inch-wide pigment-ink color printer primarily to make color prints on semi-gloss or glossy papers. Because only one black ink is used at any one time, and because there is no special built-in software for optimizing monochrome (black and white) printing, black and white won’t appear as neutral compared with the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 or Epson Stylus Photo R2880. The 17 ml cartridges used in the Stylus Photo R2000 are not as large as those used with the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 (25.9 ml) or the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 (80 ml), which may be a concern for medium to high-volume users. Lower-volume users, however, might find the cartridge size to be ideal.

Canon PIXMA MG8220

canon_pixma-mg8220. Overview: The Canon PIXMA MG8220 is an 8.5-inch-wide photo-quality multi-function printer with a compact footprint, fast print speeds, large LCD and very high quality scanning and output quality (includes a film adapter for scanning strips of transparencies or mounted slides. The printer also excels in the area of wireless printing.

Selected features:

  • 6-color individual ChromaLife 100+ dye-based inks for excellent color gamut, sharpness and good longevity on many gloss/semi-gloss papers (30-300 years before fading or unacceptable color shift depending upon the paper used and how prints are displayed)*.
  • Includes a grey ink for better quality black and white photos.
  • Ability to duplex and make borderless prints up to 8.5 × 11 inches on semi-gloss, gloss or matte papers without swapping black ink cartridges.
  • Extremely fast print output (4×6 borderless in about 20 seconds), with drop sizes as low as one picoliter.
  • Includes card slots that can be read and used to print directly from images on removable media (camera JPGs, not RAW files).
  • Canon PIXMA “Cloud Link” for printing from online photo albums, and for downloadable content.
  • Ability to print JPEG and PDF files wirelessly from compatible iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices without a computer.
  • Full HD Movie Print allows “freeze frame” printing from “MOV” movie files.
  • Many software enhancement and print options, including fish eye, Toy Camera, auto photo fix, graph paper and calendars.
  • Four standard connectivity options: USB 2.0, PictBridge, Ethernet, and wireless (WiFi). Bluetooth connectivity also possible with an optional Bluetooth adapter.
  • Built-in CD/DVD printing for inkjet-compatible CDs/DVDs.

Canon PIXMA MG6220

canon_pixma-mg6220.
The Canon PIXMA MG6220 is very similar to the Canon PIXMA MG6220, however there are four main differences:

  • The MG6220 does not come with a film adapter
  • The LCD screen is smaller (3" vs. 3.5" on the PIXMA MG8220)
  • The MG8220 has a higher scanning resolution
  • There is no auto-duplexing functionality on the PIXMA MG6220.

Recommendations/Concerns: I would recommend the Canon PIXMA MG8220 printer to anyone who is looking for a fast, 8.5-inch-wide printer with photo-quality output and high quality scanning capabilities. It is important to note, however, that the printer’s dye-based prints won’t last as long when exposed to light compared with the pigment-based ink printers mentioned throughout this buyer’s guide.

HP Photosmart eStation Multi-function Printer (C510)

hp_photosmart-estation.
Overview: The HP Photosmart eStation is a 8.5-inch-wide multi-function printer with some standout features, including a detachable, wireless seven inch high definition web touchscreen display (known as the “Zeen”) that can be used to browse the web.

Selected features:

  • 5-color individual Photosmart inks (black ink is pigment-based and color inks are dye-based) for excellent color gamut and sharpness on many gloss/semi-gloss and matte papers.
  • Ability to print duplex and make borderless prints up to 8.5 × 11 inches on semi-gloss, gloss or matte papers without swapping black ink cartridges.
  • Very fast print output.
  • HP’s Photo Creations software and customized apps allow for computer-free printing from online photo albums, Facebook and more.
  • Supports ePrint, a cloud-based printing system that works by sending the printer an e-mail with a unique e-mail address.
  • Ability to print files wirelessly from compatible iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices without a computer.
  • Two standard connectivity options: USB 2.0 and wireless (WiFi).

Recommendations/Concerns: As with the other dye-based printers mentioned in the article, it is important to note that this printer’s dye-based prints won’t last as long when exposed to light compared with pigment-based ink printers. The detachable HD touchscreen display adds many features and sets it apart from the competition, but it may not be worth the added cost for many users. Also, the scanner’s native resolution of 1200 ppi is great for scanning printed originals, such as 4 × 6 prints, but not high enough to create large files from 35mm slides or negatives. Also, with regard to Faxing, the printer does not have native fax capability. Instead, you need to set up a free e-Fax account that allows you to send and receive up to 20 faxes (40 total) over the internet. Any additional pages will incur charges, and will require an update to your eFax account. An advantage of the service is that faxes received are also sent as an attachment to the email address associated with the eFax account.

*SOURCE: Based on Testing by Wilhelm Imaging Research: http://www.wilhelm-research.com

**SOURCE: http://www.redrivercatalog.com/cost-of-inkjet-printing-canon-pro9000-pro9500.html

***SOURCE: http://www.usa.canon.com/app/html/Chromalife100Plus/light.html

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