Fast. Low price. Impressively high-quality photos and graphics. Prints on cut sheets up to 13 by 19 inches. Fine art papers available.
Lack of a rated duty cycle makes it unclear how much you can print per month without shortening the printers' useful life.
The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 ($499.99 direct) is, for the moment at least, the least expensive of Epson's high-end, near-dedicated photo printers, defined as printers that are meant primarily for photos and graphics, even though you could use them for office tasks if you had to. Like other printers in the category, it offers speed, output quality, and features suitable for a professional photographer or graphic artist. In this case, though, the price is low enough to be attractive to serious amateurs as well, a combination that makes it an Editors' Choice.
The R2000 is significantly less expensive than even the two next steps up in Epson's linethe Editors' Choice Epson Stylus Photo R2880 ($799.99 direct, 4.5 stars) and the Editors' Choice Epson Stylus Photo R3000 ($849.99 direct, 4.5 stars). Surprisingly, though, it offers a similar set of key features, starting with paper handling.
Like both of its more expensive siblings, the R2000 can print on cut sheets as large as 13 by 19 inches, print at up to 13 by 44 inches using roll paper, and print on printable optical discs. It can also take advantage of the same set of fine art papers that Epson sells for the R2880 and R3000, in addition to more common paper stock, and can even handle media up to 1.3 mm thick using its front-loading paper path.
The R2000 lacks such niceties as the color LCD control panel and the higher capacity ink cartridges you'll find in the R3000. However, like the R3000, it offers Ethernet and WiFi support (Epson recommends using 802.11n connections only), and it lets you install black cartridges for both matte and glossy paper at the same time, so you don't have to switch cartridges when you switch paper. It also offers a PictBridge connector for printing directly from cameras.
One other thing the R2000 shares with the R3000, R2880, and, indeed, any printer that can feed 13- by 19-inch paper, is a big size, so that finding enough space for it can be a challenge. It measures 8.6 by 24.5 by 12.8 inches (HWD) with the paper trays closed or 16.5 by 24.5 by 31.4 inches with the trays fully open. In addition, you need to allow roughly 4 inches of additional clearance in back for feeding paper using the manual front feed. Both the size and setup is typical for this class of inkjet.
Setup and Speed
For my tests, I installed the printer on a system running windows Vista, using the Ethernet port to connect to a network. I timed it on our photo suite, using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing, at an average 53 seconds for a 4 by 6 and 1 minute 42 seconds for an 8 by 10.
The speeds are almost identical to the times we got for the R2880 and R3000, and faster than we've seen for most other printers in this category. The Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II ($849.99 direct, 4 stars), for example, came in at only 2:35 for a 4 by 6 and 4:31 for an 8 by 10. Note that we don't time 13- by 19-inch printing, because manually feeding the paper is a big part of the actual time.
Output Quality and Lifetime
The R2000 uses a different set of inks than the R2880 and R3000. According to Epson, the different ink sets should make the most difference for black and white photos, but there are subtle differences in color output as well, and in my tests they were all in the R2880's and R3000's favor. The good news is that the key word in subtle differences is subtle. Unless you're thoroughly familiar with the way a particular image is supposed to look, or you look at output from both ink sets side by side, you're not likely to notice it even if you have a trained eye.
Because of the ink set, the photo quality for the R2000 is just a touch below the absolute best quality you can find. However, both photo and graphic quality is far better than the vast majority of standard inkjets offer, and still in the same league as the absolute best. Text was also suitably high quality for professional graphics.
The photos also promise to last. As with any printer, the photo lifetime varies depending on paper type. Epson's claimed range for Epson papers is 160 to 300 years for dark storage (as in an album) and from 52 to 80 years for paper exposed to air, depending on which paper you're using.
There are two potential issues for the R2000, but they are typical for this class of printer (I mentioned them for R3000 also). First, Epson doesn't give a rated monthly duty cycle for the printer, which means there's no way to know how much you can print per month without shortening the printer lifetime in terms of the total number of photos it will print. And second, Epson doesn't quote a cost per photo at any given size, so you have no way to judge running costs against the competition.
Clearly, it would be preferable if Epson (and other manufacturers) would provide these numbers. Given that most near dedicated photo printers suffer from the same oversights, however, you can't count these as serious strikes against the printer.
The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 offers a balance of speed, output quality, paper handling, features, and price that make it highly attractive. Most of all, it's unusually affordable for its level of output quality. For the moment at least, there is nothing else in its price class that even comes close to challenging it. And that makes it a clear Editors' Choice.Compare the Epson Stylus Photo R2000 with several other Photo Printers side by side.
More Photo Printer Reviews:
Epson Stylus Photo R2000
VuPoint Photo Cube
Polaroid Grey Label GL10 Instant Mobile Printer
Epson Stylus Pro 3880
HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One
more This review is in partnership with Ziff Davis Media.