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Epson Artisan 800 Printer Review

After several grueling months with the Hewlett Packard 7280 All-in-One printer I invoked my Office Max Max Assurance Warranty and happily got my money back. In a nutshell it was the worst printer I had ever owned and that is saying a lot. It was loud, scanned horribly, always pulled two sheets of paper into the feeder and had a multitude of other problems including bloated software which seems to be the staple of HP these days. Anyway, after being burned by this printer I was determined to do my homework and find the right printer for my home office. Enter the Epson Artisan 800 All-In-One printer.

Amazon’s many reviewers had given it a cumulative 4.25 stars which is saying a lot. The only bad reviews seemed to focus on poor yield from ink cartridges. Never one did I see notes on hardware failure, poor craftsmanship or any of the other typical printer problems. Once I noted that Office Max had the same $70 instant rebate in store that Epson had online I knew I had found my replacement printer. Upon entering the store I acquired the last Epson Artisan 800 that they had in the store. I declined the extended warranty and will opt to let Epson help me should any problems arise. The warranty is 2 years anyway which is double what HP offers.

Unpacking the printer was a snap. The usual taped edges and plastic covered most of the outer and inner workings of the printer but once removed I plugged it in and pressed on. Immediately it fired up and asked me to go through the easy set up options. I found the easy set up poster and began to walk through the steps. The only thing that might be a gotcha is removing the print head stabilizer for packing. There is one piece of paper inside the printer that points to the plastic device and is somewhat confusing. Turns out you are simply moving it to a spot designed to hold it should you ever need to transport the printer again, do not throw the plastic away if you plan on moving the printer long distances at any point in its life span.

The next step in the setup was what Epson refers to as “Charging the Print Cartridges”. This was fairly new to me as I had never had to do this with HP printers but apparently is only done on introduction of new cartridges. The process takes about 5 minutes and you are not supposed to turn off the unit while it is doing this. I don’t know what the repercussions of turning it off would be so try to not do it during a lightning storm, lol. The final step of the hardware setup is loading the paper. The paper holder completely pulls out of the unit which is VERY nice and also has a top holder for photo paper. It even holds a new photo paper type (to me anyway) that is widescreen photo paper. I will be sure to investigate the epson papers as I’m sure they will have excellent results coupled with this printer.

Ok, hardware is all set up. Now it’s time to plug it in. I am choosing to hook it up via an Ethernet cable but there are also options for Wireless B/G and USB 2.0. Supposedly all features are available regardless of the printer hookup method but that remains to be seen. There is also a bluetooth dongle that you can purchase directly from Epson for $39 that will allow you to print directly from your bluetooth enabled phone. This sounds like a really cool feature and I might buy the dongle. If I do I will update this review.

I hooked up the ethernet cable and then placed the CD into the drive. The autorun didn’t work (because I have it disabled) but running the epsetup program immediately started the software. I opted to install the full suite and it took about 20 minutess to do so. The printer was found and assigned an IP address correctly and all the software installed without a hitch. I had to answer very few questions in order to get it all installed and it was an easy process. After install I am left with the following icons on the desktop…

Epson Scan – For Scanning Documents and Photos

Print CD – For Printing Epson Printable CD’s

Print Creations – Your Project Center (Cards, Photo Books, etc)

Artisan 800 Series Info Center – Windows Help File

Also created are the following toolbar apps…

Epson Artisan 800 (Network) – Network App to show Printer Status and Ink Levels

ArcSoft Connect – For monitoring your ArcSoft Products (this one going away probably)

So, not a whole lot of bloated software. ArcConnect takes up about 16 megabytes of ram while running. The Printer network tool (E_FATIEMA.EXE) takes up about 4 megabytes of ram while running so again, not too bad. Nothing else seems to be new from the install that is active so that is good. So far, so good, big difference from the HP installs. I haven’t done a client install yet but I assume it will be about the same footprint. I will be installing the software to my son’s desktop and my wife’s laptop. I will probably also try a straight add printer to see what happens on one of the computers and see how functional things are after that. This will be helpful if I have guests over that need to print.

Ok, so printer is hooked up, software is installed, what now? Well, the first thing I tried was a photo print from my 7 megapixel Sanyo point and shoot camera. It was a picture of my 3 year old. I put the memory card into the slot (it was a 1 gb SD card) and then hit photos on the 7″ touch screen. I was presented with three options, Print Photo, Print All Photos or Print Greeting Card Photo. I chose print Photo. From here things got really cool. I can choose to allow for auto correction. This does lighting changes and red eye reduction on the fly straight from the printer, a very cool feature. I can also crop from here although that feature is somewhat limited but still great to be able to do right from the printer screen. All of this is done with the touch screen and is very fast and intuitive. The print itself was done in under 20 seconds and was done on generic 4×6 glossy photo paper, it was an excellent print!

The next steps were centered around page printing. My first test was a web page and I simply navigated to Google in a firefox browser tab and the clicked print. When you print, very briefly and Epson status window comes up and then goes away. The print comes out and is stopped by the angled backstop on the paper holder. On plain ink jet generic print 8.5×11 paper the print looks great! Very clean, no smudges and seems dry to the touch. The colors are vibrant, the darks are dark and all the details are there down to the google copyright in teeny tiny letters. Very pleased with this test print. Next I tried a PDF file from a Best Buy online purchase. Again the print was very clean, very fast and surprisingly quiet. I think I was turned off by the loudness of my previous HP and so far am impressed by the decibal output of the Epson Artisan 800

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My final printing test was a PowerPoint 2003 page with a background design and foreground text. The page was full and the speed was very nice, all told about 4 seconds. This test was also done on the generic 8.5×11 paper and again I was pleased with the results. The paper saw no bleeding through and held up very well. I can only imagine how good this would have looked if it were on quality paper. The Epson also seems to be very quiet after prints where the HP would “reset itself” and was very loud during that process.

Now onto scanning. I took a notebook page with some handwriting on it and placed it onto the scanner bed. The bed is clearly marked and easy to open. I then clicked on the EpsonScan software icon on the desktop and the options quickly come up. I chose to Auto Detect document source and just clicked scan. I’m then presented with options for saving the file after scanning and they are quite extensive, JPG, BitMap, TiFF or PDF are the major few that I noticed. I chose JPEG and hit OK. Scanner warmup took less a minute and scanning was so quiet I hardly knew it was happening. With the HP I felt as if the unit was going to fly off the desktop while scanning anything. Image scan was perfectly legible and clean and clear. It even scanned the light blue background lines of the notebook paper! Amazing!

My last tests were centered around photo scanning. I placed two snapshots on the scanner surface and again used the Epson Scan software to scan them. Scans were quick and quiet and when viewed onscreen were hard to discern from the originals. I can’t stress enough how nice they looked, much better than anything I’ve previously used. Epson has placed a quality scanner into this unit. I did not test the Fax functionality however I have it hooked up to a phone line and will probably use this feature at some point. There is an auto answer button on the touchscreen that enable it to answer. There is also the ability to store frequently used phone numbers and set up your fax cover page from the touch screen. Again it all seems very well put together and not last minute.

The Epson Artisan 800 so far seems to be a quality product and an amazing value. I hope to be happy for many, many years.

Thanks again and Enjoy!