Fresh from a roadshow that blitzed five capital cities around Australia, Epson Australia has announced two new colour inkjet printers that the vendor hopes will consolidate its share in the photo-printing market.
One of Epson's latest inkjet printers not only prints from a PC, but can function as a stand-alone device, printing images directly from a smart media card or memory stick. The idea, according to marketing director Mike Pleasants, is to take advantage of the ever-increasing digital camera market.
"We see the photography market converging with the printing area," he said. "As quickly as the digital camera market has decreased in price, it has increased in sophistication and maturity. Digital imaging has been in the professional space for quite a while now and we have had printers to match that, but the pricing and quality has been kept in the high-end area."
A study commissioned for Epson by Australia Strategy Group in March shows that while digital camera users found the format a convenient way of storing and sharing images,they often found the expense of producing hard-copy pictures and the quality of the printed image to be a problem. Consumers often regard printers that produce photo images as difficult, expensive and time consuming.
"Now we are seeing the digital camera market exploding, and it is starting to drive into the home area," Pleasants said.
"We are trying to give consumers a solution that is equal to chemical photography."
Epson's product line now includes two inkjet printers: the Epson Stylus Photo 810, a general purpose printer for the home market; and the higher end Epson Stylus Photo 895, which is aimed at the home enthusiast and small office. Featuring index printing, borderless printing and print image matching technology, the printers are aimed at making it easy for consumers to create high-quality prints from digital images. The 895 will also feature an optional LCD monitor to view images directly from the PC card to the printer.
The 810 and 895 will retail for $399 and $799 respectively, and will come bundled with Epson's PhotoQuicker 3.0 layout software. Epson has also launched an online photo album to provide users with 20MB of storage on the Web.
Epson trod new ground in its attack on the home user market by also announcing two new scanners for the home.
"Scanning has been around for a long time, but in the home area it is a bit of a black art," said Pleasants, adding the new offerings were also based around the idea of ease of use. The new scanners take in the entry-level 1250 series and the 1650 series.
This year has seen Epson lose ground in the inkjet arena to the likes of Lexmark and Canon. However, Pleasants remains confident the vendor will be able to make up the ground with its new offerings.
"We are in a very competitive market place and market share is like a horse race - a lot depends on when new products are released," he explained. "Over the last six months, our competitors have brought out new products that have done very well indeed. But with our new products, we are expected to regain our position."
Epson Stylus Photo 895