The Stylus Photo R1900 is a £369 inc VAT B-size (13in by 19in) desktop printer with pigment-based inks, advanced paper-handling capabilities and productivity features aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers.

Unlike the pricier Stylus Photo R2400, which is best known for its black-and-white printing capabilities (and its voracious appetite for ink), the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is designed primarily to produce optimal colour prints.

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First look: Epson Stylus Photo R1900

In place of the R2400's light black and light light black inks, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 has a gloss optimiser cartridge that sprays a clear overcoat on top of glossy media, producing a "superglossy" print that lacks the bronzing or dullness found in glossy prints made with most pigment-based printers.

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 uses a reformulated inkset, called UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2, consisting of eight individual inks: the gloss optimiser, matte and photo black, and cyan, magenta, yellow, red and orange.

Epson claims that the orange ink, which replaces blue in the original Hi-Gloss inks, increases the printer's overall gamut and provides improved flesh tones, while the new formulations of magenta and yellow inks improve the blues and greens, respectively, in most prints.

In conjunction with the new inks, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 incorporates a new colour-imaging technology, Radiance, co-developed by Epson and the Rochester Institute of Technology's Munsell colour Science Lab. According to Epson, Radiance provides an advanced colour gamut; better ink efficiency; reduced grain; and minimised metameric failure, which results in "improved colour constancy under different lighting conditions".

In a nod to HP Epson also says that the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 will be colour-calibrated at the factory, a process that will produce consistent colour from unit to unit. (This has been something that Epson has long done during the manufacturing process for its Stylus Pro printers.)

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 will also come with a set of ICC profiles for most Epson media types, including glossy, matte, and fine art papers and canvas.

NEXT PAGE: printhead enhancements > >

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The Stylus Photo R1900 is a £369 inc VAT B-size (13in by 19in) desktop printer with pigment-based inks, advanced paper-handling capabilities and productivity features aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers.

Printhead enhancements

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900's printhead has been coated with an ink-repelling coating, similar to the one in the x880 line of Stylus Pro printers introduced earlier this year.

The coating is designed to help reduce clogging and ensures precise dot placement over time. A new mist-collection system is also in place, to help minimize ink spray during the printing process. In the release notes, Epson claims that this will keep the inside of the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 much cleaner, but we also believe that the mist-collection system, which uses negative and positive charges to move any overspray to the absorption sponge, will also help reduce clogging.

One other enhancement designed to help clogging: the Epson Stylus Photo R1900's ink cartridges will have tiny glass beads in them, similar to those found in cans of spray paint. As the printhead moves across the page, the beads will agitate the ink, helping to keep the pigment particles from clumping.

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900's print handling appears to be as good as that of the R2400: it will print photos from 6x4in to 13x44in, and supports borderless printing at most of the popular sizes.

In addition to the standard paper input tray, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 supports up to 13in rolls and has an input tray for handling thicker fine art papers, as well as a CD tray for printing on inkjet-compatible discs.

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 has two USB 2.0 ports on the back; Epson says that the two ports are not daisy-chained, but are instead designed to let you use the printer with two computers (a laptop and a desktop, for example). The printer also has a PictBridge port for printing directly from compatible digital cameras and Epson photo viewers.

NEXT PAGE: image quality > >

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The Stylus Photo R1900 is a £369 inc VAT B-size (13in by 19in) desktop printer with pigment-based inks, advanced paper-handling capabilities and productivity features aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers.

Image quality

The sample prints Epson showed us were impressive. We liked the look of the Epson Stylus Photo R1900's glossy prints. The new gloss optimiser, which Epson says is more transparent than the first generation spray, produced no visible gloss differential in the samples, and we would expect that in our tests as well.

(It's worth noting that Epson had a rather ingenious sample image for us to look at. The photo, a letter-size page, displayed an image printed in thirds: one third was printed on Epson's dye-based Stylus Photo 1400, the second part on the R1800, and the final third the R1900. The R1900 output was far and away better than either of the other two printers, both of which have excellent print quality in their own right.)

And, while the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is optimised for glossy papers, the inclusion of matte black ink means that its output on matte paper types should be very good as well. Unlike the R2400, which requires you to swap out the matte and photo black inks when you change paper types, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 has separate channels for each black ink, using the appropriate ink for the paper you've chosen in the print driver.

Of course, without the light black inks, you won't get the rich, deep tonal range of the R2400 when printing black-and-white images, but the Epson Stylus Photo R1900's black-and-white output should still be passable for most people.

One thing we'll be keeping an eye out for is Wilhelm Research's print longevity tests for the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 and Epson papers. Their results for the R1800 showed print life of more than 100 years (under glass) for the Premium Glossy and Enhanced Matte papers, and we would hope that the R1900 at least shows that, but with the change of the inks, it's not certain.

NEXT PAGE: expert verdict > >

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The Stylus Photo R1900 is a £369 inc VAT B-size (13in by 19in) desktop printer with pigment-based inks, advanced paper-handling capabilities and productivity features aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers.

Pigment-based printers have long been the province of the pro end of the inkjet printer market, although the Big Three vendors - Epson, Canon and HP - have steadily been moving down to the consumer end of the market, dancing around that magic £350 price point. The coated printhead and the mist-collection system should help Epson with the knock that its printers clog more than those of the competition, which is a perception issue for some users, and reality for others (and a non-issue for the Stylus Pro line).

What's most interesting about the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is Epson's focus on optimising for glossy prints. Most serious amateurs and pros stay away from glossy photo papers, preferring to print on matte, fibre-based or fine art paper types. But the reality is that many people - especially when printing at home - love the look of glossy prints. And the Epson Stylus Photo R1900, although priced a bit higher than the average home user might like, should offer some of the best glossy output on the market.

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Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Specs

  • Photographic prints up to A3+ size
  • Epson's new UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 pigment inks
  • Epson Gloss Optimizer Technology for enhanced gloss printing
  • 8 Individual Ink Cartridges for maximum cost efficiency
  • Maximum 5760 optimized dpi for detailed and super smooth gradations
  • Minimum 1.5pl droplet size and Variable-Sized Droplet Technology
  • Epson New LUT Technology
  • Create original CD-R/DVD-R with direct CD-R/DVD-R print function
  • True BorderFree printing
  • Energy Star compliance
  • 16kg
  • Photographic prints up to A3+ size
  • Epson's new UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 pigment inks
  • Epson Gloss Optimizer Technology for enhanced gloss printing
  • 8 Individual Ink Cartridges for maximum cost efficiency
  • Maximum 5760 optimized dpi for detailed and super smooth gradations
  • Minimum 1.5pl droplet size and Variable-Sized Droplet Technology
  • Epson New LUT Technology
  • Create original CD-R/DVD-R with direct CD-R/DVD-R print function
  • True BorderFree printing
  • Energy Star compliance
  • 16kg

OUR VERDICT

For the serious photographer, Epson is tossing around words such as "sellable" and "gallery-quality" when referring to the R1900 output, terms that have long been reserved for the company's Stylus Pro printers. While we might look a bit askance at those claims - after all, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is a 6-colour inkjet - the R1900 does look like a solid improvement over an already good printer. We'll reserve final judgement until we've had a chance to test it fully, but we think it's an exciting addition to the photo printer market.

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