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best direct-to-disc printer we've looked at - Epson's 950 - now has
a companion that costs around half the price. We check out the newcomer,
the 900, to see how it compares
Having been impressed
with the direct-to-disc printing capabilities of Epson's Stylus Photo
950, we were keen to see if the standard could be maintained by its
little brother, the Stylus Photo 900. This costs £149.99 - some
£145 less than the 950 - and is also £75 less than the Odixion
DigiPrinter Universal and only about £75 more than TDK's dedicated
thermal disc printer, the LPCW-50, which can now be had for under £75.
Although the 900 isn't expensive, it's worth noting that there is, in
effect, no price competition between UK retailers. The Dixons Store
Group has a UK monopoly, so the 900 is only available in DSG outlets
- Dixons, Currys and PC World - where, shock horror, prices are identical.
In testing the 900, we're focusing mainly on its direct-to-disc printing,
which will be its big attraction to CV readers. Even so, we've not totally
ignored its paper-printing capabilities. When we received the 900, it
was bundled with two inkjet printable CDs - TDK CD-R80s. However, it
looks as though Epson will instead be including Verbatim CD-Rs and,
by a happy coincidence, it was Verbatim media that we used for most
of our tests.
We were left hacked off by problems with off-centre disc prints, and
by the fact that Epson provides no decent paper manual and then scatters
instructions all over the PC's hard disk. Even so, the 900 is good value
compared with its big brother, the 950, and gives far better results
than the Odixion and TDK printers.
Lots of people are going to buy a 900 and be very happy with it - for
discs and for printing photos and other material. But we can't help
thinking that printing accurately onto a CD or DVD isn't exactly rocket
science, and that, if this is as good as it gets, then printer makers
aren't trying hard enough.
Read the full
feature in November 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in November's
Stylus Photo 900
Canopus ProCoder 1.5
Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme
Sony Vaio GRT715M
Snazzi analogue and DV editing
Easy CD/DVD creation
Roxio's Toast for 10
Adobe uses MainConcept
Multi DVD burner/printer
DVD VR to QT under Mac OS
Greater Contour control
Defragmenting -/+VR DVDs