One of the major new features of Epson’s Stylus C84 is its support of DURAbrite inks and papers. This new Epson technology claims the double benefits of water-resistance straight out of the printer and fade-resistance of up to 80 years. This is achieved using new pigmented colour inks and we can confirm that its water-resistance is pretty good.
The Stylus C84 is a fairly sizeable ink-jet printer with a conventional paper path. It takes up to 120 sheets of A4 paper from a near-vertical hopper at the rear and feeds it out to a fold-down, telescopic output tray at the front. Three control buttons on the printer’s top surface provide for power, ink-tank maintenance and paper feed control.
Epson continues to use its piezo-electric print heads, which last for the lifetime of the printer. The head carrier takes four, clip-in ink tanks, which can be replaced separately to give better consumables economy, if you use the colours at different rates.
The tanks cost around £9.50 for each of the colours and £19 for the standard black. A high-capacity black cartridge is also available. With DURAbrite paper currently costing about 40p per sheet, this gives a cost per page of around 8p for a 5 percent coverage standard black page and 59p for a 20 percent coverage full-colour one. These costs are on the high side, but should drop as DURAbrite paper becomes more widely available.
The printer offers both parallel and USB interfaces and the software installation is straightforward, thanks to a new setup routine which integrates the various elements. As well as the printer driver, there’s a copy of PhotoQuicker, which provides photo management and print layout facilities.
The Stylus C84 is a commendably quick machine, producing five pages of black text in exactly one minute and printing a 5 x 3-inch photo at top quality in just two minutes nine seconds. The printer handles anything from plain photocopier paper through to glossy photo paper and can print borderless images up to full A4.
Image quality is good for black and colour graphics, though photo reproduction is subjectively not quite as good as from earlier Stylus Color printers. The dot pattern, even though Epson quotes a very high resolution of 5,760dpi, is noticeable in areas of smooth colour, and colour gradations are also more noticeable than in the output of some other printers.
The Photo Edition of the C84 comes with a six-way memory card reader, which is good value for only £10 extra.
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