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Epson brings out the details

The Stylus Photo 1280 offers great photo-quality output. Hardware review hed: Epson brings out the details dek: the Stylus Photo 1280 offers great photo-quality output.

The new Epson Stylus Photo 1280 offers borderless printing of photo quality output at up to 2,880-by-720dpi with paper sizes up to 13-by-19 inches. The roll paper adapter that was optional with the model 1270 is standard with the 1280, although it appears to be of a different design. Computer connections are via parallel and USB ports, and it’s compatible with Mac OS and Windows computers.

Getting the Stylus Photo 1280 up and running take less than five minutes, but if this is your first photo-quality printer, take a few minutes to read the set-up sheet Epson provides. To maximize output quality, I recommend that before attempting to print anything, computer users of all skill levels should take the time to run Epson’s print utilities. Improvements in the 1280’s driver include a Smooth Edge setting that smoothes the inevitable jaggies that result when printing low-resolution files, such as images below 100dpi captured from the Web. To print borderless prints in 4-by-6, 5-by-7, 8-by-10, letter, 11-by-14, and 13-by-19 size, click the No Margins check box in the Page Setup dialog box in Photoshop (Mac OS) or the Paper tab in the Windows Print dialog box.

When used with Epson’s Premium-brand photo papers, it claims an output resolution of 2880-by-720dpi in black-and-white or color. Initial test prints made with the 1280 at 1,440dpi and using Epson Photo Paper showed subtle but noticeable improvements over the same file printed at identical settings on an Epson Stylus Photo 1270. While the print made on the 1270 looks superb, subtle details appeared when printed using the Stylus Photo 1280.

The new printer uses the same ink cartridges as the previous one, which means the stability of the output is the same. Wilhelm Imaging Research reported output from the Stylus Photo 1270, when output on Epson’s Premium Glossy Photo Paper, has a life of from nine to 10 years and 24 to 26 years when made with the company’s Matte Paper Heavyweight media. Epson provided samples of its new Premium Luster Photo Paper and Premium Semigloss Photo Papers. The Premium Luster Photo Paper has a soft, not-quite-matte surface that has sparkle to it. Colors were snappy and contrast was excellent. The Premium Semigloss Photo Paper has less gloss than the snappier Luster paper. I also used media from Agfa, Ilford, and Legion, and was able to obtain spectacular image quality.

On the driver disc, Epson includes a copy of Adobe Photoshop LE, along with trial versions of QBeo’s PhotoGenetics software and its own Film Factory program for organizing, tweaking, and printing digital photographs. The Installer CD-ROM also contains Monaco EZcolor Lite that lets you create a monitor profile for your system.

The Epson Stylus Photo 1280 delivers crisp text for all kinds of documents and I used it to print letters, envelopes, mailing and floppy disk labels in grayscale and color. This is clearly the best desktop ink-jet printer since Epson’s own Stylus Photo 1270, and that’s a tough act to follow.

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