Users shouldn't plunk down big bucks for a photo printer that produces only dinky, snapshot-size prints until they've seen Epson's versatile Stylus Photo 700 and Stylus Photo EX. Unlike most photo printers, these are affordable, general-purpose inkjets that just happen to do a smashing job with photographs.
Essentially an upgrade of last year's original Stylus Photo, the Stylus Photo 700 delivers improved print quality and speed at a lower price. The Stylus Photo EX ups the ante by also printing on 11 x 17in paper. At their best, shipping versions of both models produced images as photo-realistic as any I've seen from a personal printer. My vacation pictures, blown up to miniposter size on the EX, looked fabulous. But for maximum quality, you'll need plenty of disk space and time; my scanned photos ate up about 25MB each, and each took almost half an hour to print. I also got nice results in just a few minutes with small, low-resolution JPEG images, and both printers did a competent job with text on plain paper (though at about a page per minute, the pace was sluggish).
Adding to these printers' appeal is Epson's large and growing selection of special print media. You can get snapshot-size paper that looks and feels like real photo stock, 8.3 x 23.4in panoramic banners, and even canvas cloth for prints that look like paintings. Though not cheap - do enough printing on these pricey media, and you could put yourself into debt - you'll at least have fun doing it.
Epson Stylus Photo 700 - $519 RRP (ex tax), Stylus Photo EX - $849 RRP (ex tax).
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