Epson Stylus Photo R200
The Stylus Photo R200 is an entry-level photo-quality printer.
It's relatively solid and robust for a low-cost printer, and has some nifty design features. For example, both the input and output trays fold away neatly when not in use. Both trays have extending paper supports, your paper won't curl as it waits on the printer.
The R200's semi-translucent cover lifts up to allow easy access to the ink cartridge slots, of which there are six - one for each of the individual photo-quality inks. Most inkjets use just four colours, but the Stylus Photo R200 has two additional colours, pale cyan and pale magenta. These allow it to reproduce lighter shades more accurately - it's especially handy for skin tones.
The R200's unique selling point is its ability to print on to CDs and DVDs, as long they're the plain, unbranded sort. The printer comes with an adapter, in which you place your CD. You then use the software supplied to design your artwork and print just like you would onto any other material.
As with most inkjet printers, the R200's output on plain paper is disappointing. Unlike special photo papers, which are coated, plain paper soaks up ink, causing pictures to run before they dry. This results in text that loses its crisp edges, and images that lack clarity. However, results on specialist glossy photo paper are excellent. You'd be hard pressed to distinguish between the R200's output and a traditional photo print, thanks to its 2880x1440dpi maximum resolution and the ability to produce ink droplets as small as 3 picolitres (a picolitre is one trillionth of a litre). Colours are incredibly accurate - not oversaturated, but vibrant nonetheless. The ability to print right to the edge of A4 sheets is also a real plus point. On the downside, the R200 is slow. At standard quality, text output was a mere two pages per minute (ppm). An A4 photo took three minutes 17 seconds to print at maximum resolution - again, not speedy.
The R200 misses out on a Top 50 award because it's slightly more expensive than our current winner, the Canon BubbleJet i865, and prints at a lower resolution. It's also slightly slow, and the text quality is a little poor. In its favour, photos were absolutely top-notch. If you're a purist who wants professional-quality photo prints, and you need the added flexibility of CD printing, the R200 is just the ticket - if you aren't, stick with the Canon.