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Epson Stylus Color 850
Ink Jet Printer
by Jim Bennett (October 1998)
The Epson Stylus Color 850 ink jet printer is a top performing printer with excellent user friendliness. It's one of the fastest ink jets around at about 9ppm for monochrome and about 5 ppm for color. It's faster than some laser printers and print quality is excellent at 1440X720 dpi. It has both a suggested retail and street price around $350. You know a product is a winner when the unit isn't discounted very much.

One look at its output clearly demonstrates that this is a very, very good printer. The entire line is based on the highly successful and reliable 400 and 600. 800 series owners still seem to be quite happy. Epson's award winning Micro Piezo printhead technology is a key reason for the stunning results. Basically, it uses a process which places ink droplets on the paper rather than using heat. The results are outstanding color, quick drying, better color penetration and a lower cost per page.

Inkjet cartridge costs vary from printer to printer, so it's best to check costs by comparing color cartridge prices and your planned usage patterns. Those colorful and expensive fluids seem to quickly disappear when you get engrossed in a printing project. Since the prices of many OEM cartridges seem to be in the same price range, your only options appear to carefully limit your printing, look into refill kits or pay for the "real" cartridge. Using coated, photographic paper produces the best results, but is the most expensive by far.

Many studies have been done on ink and paper costs for ink jets and lasers. They range in price from 3 to 20 cents per page for monochrome ink jets and from 15 to over a dollar per page for color. Photo quality printing costs four to six times more than regular color printing. As a comparison, monochrome laser printer costs between 2 to 6 cents per page for toner.

Photo quality printing takes from 5 to 15 minutes to print - 8.5 by 11 inches with a one inch border. The 850 seems somewhat noisier than the earlier 600 series, but the print quality is far superior.

You pay for the versatility and convenience of the ink jet in the consumables (paper and ink). Ink jets are inexpensive to purchase, but you can easily exceed the purchase price of the printer in consumables during the first year.

The results of the Epson 850 are very good and I recommend this unit.

Pros
Excellent inkjet print quality
Easy to use
Reliable
Good performance/price ratio

Cons
Cost of ink cartridges
Noisy printing

Copyright 1998 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.

   
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