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. 13×19" 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]