Epson Stylus Photo R2880 review
Piezo inkjet, print speed, 2x USB Hi-Speed, PictBridge USB, 415x616x797 mm
Although externally identical to the Stylus Photo R1900, the Stylus Photo R2880 isn't quite the same inside.
Epson has tweaked the print engine to make it even better-suited to photo printing. The difference lies in its inks. The R2880 uses eight different colours: photo black, light black, light light black, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta and yellow. If you thought three shades of black weren't enough, there's an also an optional matt black cartridge for printing on matt paper. Unlike the R1900, the matt black tank can't be fitted at the same time as photo black and has to be swapped manually when required. Since there's no way to seal cartridges once they've been removed from the printer, you run the risk of a black tank drying out, which isn't a cheap prospect at £11 a pop.
Annoyingly, the type of black ink that's installed has to be selected manually in the printer driver, but there's little risk of printing with the wrong ink and paper combination; matte paper can't be selected when glossy black ink is selected, and vice versa. Matt and glossy blacks can print on plain paper, though.
This rainbow of different inks increases the printer's colour gamut; in other words, it can print a wider portion of the visible colour spectrum. This means prints are extremely closely matched to the original image, which is essential for any professional-quality printer.
The R2880's photographic output is indistinguishable from a chemically developed photo (assuming the source image is up to scratch, of course). As with the R1900, colours are a little subdued compared to the vibrant output of Canon's Pixma iP4600, but they do contain more fine detail, although you have to look very closely to notice it. Text output is also more than acceptable, at least with matt black ink, making the R2880 a better all-rounder than the R1900. A3 prints took a fair pedestrian seven minutes and 40 seconds.
Unless you'll be printing hundreds of A3 photos, Epson's R2880 is simply a false economy for most people, and for this reason we can't recommend it.