Epson Stylus Photo 950
Review Date: 23rd October 2003
The Epson Stylus Photo 950 has a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1440dpi when used with compatible papers. The permanent EPSON Micro Piezo™ print head produces a 2 picolitre EPSON Ultra Micro Dot™ for high quality reproduction. Different size ink droplets are intelligently used for different areas of the photograph - small dots for areas of fine detail and large dots for areas of block colour.
The Epson Stylus Photo 950 provides prints with in excess of 25 years lightfastness when used with Epson's ColorLife Photo Paper. The EPSON QuickDry™ dye based ink has been specifically formulated to deliver vibrant colours, smoother tonal ranges and superb colour expression as standard. The dye-based ink isn't as lightfast as the pigment ink used in the Epson Stylus Photo 2100 A3 printer, which provides prints with in excess of 75 years lightfastness.
There are actually 7 separate ink cartridges in the 6 colour Epson Stylus Photo 950 - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan and Light Magenta and 2 x Black for higher speed black throughput and improved economy. Interestingly Epson's own test figures seem to indicate that some cartridges will run out more quickly than others. Using a standard example image, they quote that the Cyan cartridge will last for 268 pages, while the Light Magenta will run out after 74 pages. So you may have to stock up on particular colour cartridges. During the 3 week review period the Light Magenta and Light Cyan cartridges were the quickest to run out.
The Epson Stylus Photo 950 supports the EPSON PRINT Image Matching standard, which produces images that are faithful to the original Digital Still Camera image, with higher quality greens, blues, turquoises and natural skin tones.
Epson's printers have never been the quickest on the market, and the Epson Stylus Photo 950 is no exception to this rule. Epson quote speeds of 8.8ppm in black A4 text memo pattern (Economy mode), 8.5ppm in colour A4 text memo pattern (Economy mode), 7.3ppm for A4 document with text & colour graphics (Normal mode), and 121 seconds for an 8"x10" photo (bike image, 720dpi mode). Notice that they don't give a quote for 1440dpi or 2880dpi modes. 2 minutes for an 8"x10" print sounds respectable enough, but this is for 720dpi mode - in practice the print speed is considerably slower at the higher resolutions.
There are two ways of connecting the Epson Stylus Photo 950 to your PC. You can either use the older and slower Parallel Interface, or the newer and faster USB 1.1 connection. Annoyingly there is no USB cable included with the printer - to be fair to Epson, virtually all printer manufacturers choose to not supply this cable.
The Epson Stylus Photo 950 has a lot of extra features included as standard in the box. There is a paper roll holder which allows you to print banner, panoramic or multiple shots, a paper cutter and catcher for automatic trimming of roll media, and the ability to print directly onto matte coated media up to 2.5 mm in thickness. The Epson Stylus Photo 950 also features borderless printing and the ability to print directly onto suitable CDs, with no special sticker media required.
Considering that this is a printer that creates A4 sized prints, the Epson Stylus Photo 950 is both heavy and large in size. It weighs in at a hefty 7.6Kg, or 8.6Kg with the paper cutter fitted, and the standard dimensions are 51.5 x 33.3 x 20.9 cms. It will swallow up quite a lot of desk-space and is considerably bigger than the Stylus Photo 890.