Fancy printer review: Epson SureColor P600

My Canon 9000 died last year after many years of infrequent but dutiful service. The Epson SureColor P600 isn't just an upgrade on cheaper wide-format photo printers; the prints are significantly better than the aging model that it replaced.

At $720 on Amazon, it's significantly more expensive than even well-reviewed photo inkjets, but the upgrade rationale is clear: large 13"-wide (e.g. 13x19" or A3) fine art and photo prints of "exhibition" quality. It's for artists and photographers who want to sell copies of their work without trusting it to third-party services and without compromising on print quality—but who aren't churning prints out at a pace where dropping four-figures on a large-tank commercial model makes sense.

It uses nine 25.9ml ink cartridges (each are about $35 to replace), though not all will be used on every paper type (switching between photo and matte blacks is automatic, but triggers a cleaning of the black feed that apparently costs about a dollar's worth of ink.)

It's 22 x 30 x 17 inches and about forty pounds, so you'll need space for it. It also has a touch-sensitive screen, which seems superfluous, but does ease the UI nightmare that printer setup usually is.

A wide variety of art and other specialty finish papers are offered by Epson. A note of caution: the Mac instructions tell you to set it up with Bonjour, but if you do, the print dialog doesn't have any of the Epson-specific options. When setting it up, wait until it autodetects the "IP" connection and pick that one instead.

It comes with a roll-feeding attachment: think 13"-wide signs or panoramas, as long as you please. I've had it about six months without a problem, including a two-month spell without use: no clogs!

Output's been impeccable. The blacks in particular are noticeably richer and deeper than the model it replaces, a fact confirmed by other reviews. I haven't looked much at recent models from competitors such as Canon, though. Print speed's good, about three minutes a print. Don't forget that if you switch between matte and glossy, it'll spend five minutes or so flushing the black feed.

Need more technical details? This particularly in-depth review cautions that "the days of massive leaps in performance with almost all new printer (and camera) models are behind us" but that, as I found, it's a worthwhile upgrade on older models.

Finally, if you're committing to gear like this, figure out the color management stuff and don't use shit third-party ink.

Epson SureColor P600 [Amazon Referral Link]