Epson SureColor SC-P800 Review
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The Epson SureColor SC-P800 professional A2+ printer is aimed at both the professional and Fine art photographer. There is no denying that large A2 size prints create an instant impact at exhibitions and to potential Fine Art print collectors. The SC-P800 uses 9 UltraChrome HD pigment inks which include; Yellow, Vivid Light Magenta, Vivid Magenta, Cyan, Light Cyan, Light Black, Light Light Black, Photo Black and Matte Black. The Epson SureColor SC-P600 costs around £900 / $1200.
The Epson SureColor SC-P800 upward tilting control panel incorporates a 2.7 inch LCD colour touch screen and three buttons; Power ON/OFF, Home (used for the LCD screen), and return to last menu item. Oddly there is a blank button which Epson could have made use of for Print, Cancel, or other function. However, all options and functions are available via the touch screen panel.
The touch screen LCD menu includes useful information on how to load media, and displays screens of information such as ink levels, WiFi setup, maintenance etc., the well designed screen saves looking through the PDF user guide. Pressing the OK button expands most of the menus to provide sufficient information on each function.
Connect the Epson SureColor SC-P800 to a power source and turn on. Each pigment ink cartridge has to be shaken before installing. This ensures that the heavier pigment ink particles are well circulated and are not settled at the bottom of the cartridge. The cartridges do not move with the print head, they remain in a fixed position on the left side of the printer. Each ink cartridge has a unique moulding combination which will only fit into the correct, the slots also have a colour label, so there is no possibility of inserting the inks into the wrong chamber. Each cartridge contains a generous 80ml of ink. The smallest variable ink droplet size has been reduced to 3.5pl, this produces smoother gradients and reduced grain effect.
Although all 9 inks are fitted only 8 inks are used at any one time. The printer automatically switches between Photo black and Matte when the media type (Glossy or Matte), is selected in the Printer Properties or via the front LCD screen. When switching inks the printer needs to purge a small amount of black ink that is in the print head. This ensures that the correct black ink is used for the media type selected. The quantity of ink that is purged is; Matte to Photo Black approx. 3ml of ink, Photo to Matte Black approx 1ml of ink.
Next, install the printer drivers and software, just follow the on-screen instructions. You have three options for connectivity, a USB 2.0 port, WiFi or 10/100 Ethernet. The bundled software includes Epson Easy Print as well as the PDF User Guide. You have the option to leave out the software when using the custom install setting.
The overall build quality of the Epson SureColor SC-P800 is of a very high standard with sturdy trays that don't give the impression they are going to fall apart with heavy use. The SC-P800 has a small footprint 684 x 376 x 250 mm (Width x Depth x Height) when not in use, 684 x 963 x 550 mm when printing. When in the closed position the three section rear Auto sheet feeder acts as a protective cover against dust and other objects that could fall into the works when closed. The front paper out tray consists of two telescopic sections, although the tray does seem small for catching A2 media.
The SC-P800 also has a front loading straight paper path for thicker paper and board up to 1.5mm thickness. When using thick Fine-Art media the media is drawn in and makes 45 degree upward curve to place the paper in the Rear Speciality Media holder ready for printing. This was rather confusing as many user could try to use the rear slot for loading. Board media up to 1.5mm can also be loaded, this keeps a straight paper path. The board media is drawn fully into the printer before printing commences, this does require extra room at the rear to allow the board to make a partial exit before being drawn back in for printing.
The rear paper support is a three stage telescopic unit which also forms the printer's top cover. There is a small lip on the right hand side, to prevent the media from slipping sideways. The grey media guide has a positive feel to it and moves very smoothly along the guide, There are difficult to see media size markings engraved on the bottom section of the rear support A4, A3 and A2, this enables you to set the media guide slider, although manually adjusting the guide up to the media is a better option. The following media sizes are supported; A2, A3+, A3++, A3, A4, A5, A6, B3, B4, B5, B6, C4 (Envelope), C5 (Envelope), C6 (Envelope), Letter, Letter Legal, 10 x 15 cm, 13 x 18 cm, 13 x 20 cm, 20 x 25 cm, 100 x 148 mm, 17 ", roll media and User defined.
A speciality media rear support tray is located at the back of the printer. This tray serves as the printing tray when using the front loading media tray, media can't be loaded using this tray. See Fine Art Printing further on in this review.
The printer will print on roll media up to 17in wide, this enables the printer to print banners, panoramic images and gallery wrap canvas. Unfortunately the sturdy roll media holder has to be purchased as an optional accessory priced at £197.93 inc VAT.
With all the covers shut, the printer has a totally flat top surface. This is a convenient place to store boxes of media when printer is not in use (not coffee cups!)