- Fast text and graphics printing;
- excellent graphics and photos on special paper;
- wired networking option available.
- Disappointing text output.
Epson's Stylus C80 brings a new dimension to inkjet printing -- pigment-based inks. Thanks in part to these new inks (dye-based inks are more common), the Stylus C80 does a great job on graphics for such a modestly priced printer (£152.34 ex. VAT; £179 inc. VAT). It's also remarkably fast, offering print speeds of up to 20 pages per minute (ppm). However, the one thing it fails to offer is good text printing.
Setting up the Stylus C80 is simple using the included CD-ROM. The CD's Reference Guide gives you product information, a comprehensive troubleshooting section, and how-tos for double-sided printing, network setup and so on. The printer driver, although simple, has every feature you might need, from Photo Enhance settings to nozzle cleaning.
In terms of usability, the Stylus C80 is perfectly adequate. The paper-input tray holds a generous 150 sheets and 15 envelopes. The printer works on both the parallel and USB ports (cables not included) and is both Mac and PC compatible. Epson also offers an external 10/100 Ethernet interface for £129 (ex. VAT).
The Stylus C80 excelled in our Labs' text print-speed tests, averaging a blazing 6.1ppm, which is faster than nearly all the inkjets we've tested so far (even the more expensive ones). At 1.4ppm, its graphics print speeds are also reasonably fast compared to those of most home inkjets. However, it took the Stylus C80 5.6 minutes to print our 8 by 10in. test photograph -- that's fairly slow compared to the competition.
This printer marks the introduction of Epson's new DuraBrite pigment-based inks, which are designed to be bright and clear, as well as moisture- and fade-resistant. The Stylus C80's colour graphics output is generally pretty impressive. Our test photo, printed on Epson's Premium Photo Paper looked crisp, clear and smooth. The same was true for our graphics test document, printed on Epson's Photo Quality Ink Jet paper. The colour reproduction was a bit off in places, and we noticed a yellowish hue in the black portions of the document, but the line drawings were smooth, the printer handled gradients and shading well, and the photo elements looked good.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Graphics on plain paper were generally good, with decent colour reproduction and fairly smooth line drawing and shading. On both Epson Ink Jet and plain paper, text was fuzzy around the edges -- especially in the italicised portions of our test document -- and pretty much illegible at tiny 2.5- and 3-point font sizes.
Fortunately, the Stylus C80 employs four separate ink tanks for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, which keeps the cost of printing down. The Stylus C80's ink costs, at 2.1p per black and white page and 9.7p per colour page, are not in any way outrageous.
The Stylus C80 comes with the industry-standard one-year warranty, which you can extend up to three years for £35 (ex. VAT), or £59 (ex. VAT) if you go for the on-site option.
The Epson Stylus C80 is impressively fast for an inkjet in the sub-£200 price range. It also does a great job on photos and graphics. However, we can't overlook its poor text quality -- not when there are printers in the same price range that can do better, including Canon's S600 and HP's DeskJet 940c.