Print Quality

by David Schloss

Rating 95

Epson’s latest offering, the Stylus Photo 1280, packs a lot of upgrade into a small change in model number. Most impressive is the doubling of resolution to 2880dpi, a change that makes already sharp prints even sharper. Epson uses a custom six-color ink set, adding a light-cyan and light-magenta ink to the standard CMYK to provide a richer set of colors, and a four nozzle design that lays down incredibly precise drops of ink. The result is high-quality, lightning-fast output.

We compared prints from Epson’s archival photo printer (the 2000P, $899) with output from the 1280, and the difference was clearly visible to the naked eye. Subtle shadow and highlight details were more noticeable on the 2880dpi print, and fine detail areas and gradations were clearly improved as well.

The 1280 offers BorderFree printing on paper from 4 by 6 inch up to 13 by 19 inch (albeit at 1440dpi). It’s now possible to print full-bleed snapshot size prints, 8 by 10 inches, or even A3 pages with full edge-to-edge coverage.

Epson claims the printer will produce more than 300 pages of graphics at 5 percent coverage on a single cartridge. Our own tests involved printing 6- by 10-inch, full-color images at 2880dpi at the highest quality setting on letter-size sheets, and the 1280 yielded more than 30 prints before requiring a change of cartridge.

The 1280 comes bundled with Photoshop LE, Epson Film Factory TE, Qbeo Photo Genetics, and an offer for color calibration software, Monaco EZ color.

Setup of the 1280 is a breeze on either platform, and it performs flawlessly with such standard applications as Photoshop and Office.

The 1280 doubles as a very capable text printer, spitting out around nine pages per minute of black text memos. It uses a separate black-ink cartridge so printing the occasional cover letter won’t affect the amount of print-life in the color cartridge.

Our only complaint with the Photo Stylus 1280 is the same as with all of Epson’s USB printers: No cable is included in the box. While this lowers costs, it leaves many an unaware buyer with a printer and no way to connect it.

In these days of high-quality $99 printers, the $499 Epson Photo Stylus 1280 is still an exceptional value for the small office.$500

PROS: Great quality, BorderFree printing, ability to print larger paper sizes

CONS: No USB cable included

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.
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