The Epson R380 is an Ultra Hi-Definition photo printer that relies on some of the same technologies used by professional photo printers. The R380s is the mid-range in Epson’s HD photo printer line with the R260 on the lower end and the RX580 at the top of the line.
Slightly less than 16 pounds, the R380 is approximately 18 inches wide, 21 inches deep and just over 11 inches high and has the foot print of a bulkier scanner /rinter. In fact, it looks like an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. It uses 6-color cartridges that are accessible from the top and it has a bright LCD and a 5-in-1 card reader. These features may account for the bulky design. There is only one paper feed input and that is on top. The paper feed tray holds about 120 sheets of regular paper or 20 sheets of photo paper.
Out of the box the R380 is easy to set up. Just run the software and drivers and when that’s done, connect the USB print cable (not included) load the paper and you are good to go. Very straightforward, right?
One of the important features is the memory slots for PC free printing — very cool and convenient. There are two memory slots and between them they will accommodate SD, xD, CF and MS pro cards. Then, there is an excellent 3.5 inch LCD to view /preview your pictures. These two features make the R380 truly a special stand alone photo printer.
The Epson Claria ink, especially for pictures promotes print longevity and is resistant to fading. The proprietary print heads are called MicroPiezo. The MicroPiezo print heads adjust the size of the ink droplet based on what the image requires. The result is smoother gradations and more accurate skin tones. There are five droplet sizes and that combined with six different ink colors creates accuracy.
Printing from a media card
After inserting the media card you will see the images on the LCD. For simple selection just click on the pictures you want and indicate the number of copies. If you have a lot of pictures there is a “zoom out” feature that can show 20 thumbnails at once on the LCD. For a reference you can print out the thumbnail sheet. From the LCD you can change options such as type, paper size, border and crop as well as brightness adjustments, contrast and sharpness. You can also add a date. Other options let you print directly from Bluetooth enabled devices using a adapter or you can use an external CD, Zip or flash memory drive
Printing pictures from video which is way cool, but be advised that the quality of video pictures tends to be lower. If the video you are shooting is the highest quality you will get somewhat satisfactory prints.
Yes, you can print DVD and CD labels. Verbatim and Memorex and a few other companies make inkjet CDs and DVDs. It’s recommended that you burn on your data before the label process. There is a specific sleeve to hold the disc and there are arrows to line it up. The jewel case inserts you use letter size paper. Paying attention to detail, the insert even has reference marks so it folds neatly into the jewel case.
No photo printer is fast and the R380 is no exception. Printing a 4×6 in the draft mode will print in 13 seconds; better quality is around 30 seconds in the default mode. Simple text documents can run 15 to 30 copies a minute.
The Epson R380 is a retail photo developer’s nightmare but a photo hobbyist’s dream. It delivers great pictures and the interface is good. With photo developing shops in trouble they are either changing the thrust of their businesses or going out of business. I think this is a result of the digital camera boom and the high quality of the photo printers now on the market.
The cost of the R380 is under $200 and that in itself is almost unbelievable. The prices of printers in general are incredibly low. You wonder why that is until you run out of ink and you get nailed on the high cost of refills. Apparently, that is the business model for this industry. I’m willing to bet that when its all said and done you’re going to wind up spending more on ink than you do on the printer.