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If you're looking for the perfect solution for your home scanning and printing needs take a good look at Epson's Artisan 700. Priced at $199.99 the Epson gives you better quality photos than your usual printer, it scans, it prints on CD/DVDs, it even creates custom note paper - and does it all wirelessly. You can also copy, edit, and print photos, restore old photos, print from memory cards or even from your Blue Tooth equipped phone (optional accessory) all without a computer.
Epson's new Artisan 700 is what is called an All-in-One (AIO), meaning that it can scan documents, print text as well as high quality photos. The Artisan 700 does all this wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and that makes life much simpler for the consumer. No more buying a separate printer for every computer user in your home, no more lugging a printer from room to room (like I used to do). Now everyone in the house can share the same printer/scanner easily.
I'm sure plenty of you out there have this same problem, an office that is packed to the rafters with computers, keyboards, external hard-drives, cable modems, speakers, monitors, DVR, file drawers, tons of DVDs and CDs, paperwork, and in my case, also a treadmill. There is a serious lack of empty space big enough to place a printer or scanner anywhere near my main computer. That's why I've been looking forward for the past year to reviewing my first Wi-Fi enabled AIO.
The first such unit to arrive at my front door was the Epson Artisan 700. Its a somewhat compact upscale looking unit, roughly 6" high by 17.5" by 15", all black with back lit controls and a 2.5" LCD display. Its a nice change from the plainer looking, lighter colored printers and scanners out there.
The model 700 is the little brother to Epson's other Artisan model, the 800. The main differences are the 800 adds features more in tune with the home office since it has FAX capability, an auto-document feeder, a higher native optical scan resolution (4800 dpi versus 2400 dpi). The 800 model also sports a gorgeous 3.5" LCD display that looks like something out of Star Trek. The LCD display on the 700 is a more modest 2.5" but still more than large enough to clearly display any information that is shown there. The maximum print size with the model 800 is 8.5" x 14" and with the model 700 its the standard 8.5" x 11" (8.5" x 11.69" to be exact). The Artisan 700 retails for $199.99 and the 800 for $299.99 although street prices are lower.
I found the controls on the 700 are very well laid out, logical and easy to use even without cracking open the instruction book. Help screens on the LCD display and the back lit control buttons walk you through every task. I think it's the easiest to use control panel design I've come across.
The Artisan 700 uses Epson's Claria Hi-Definition inks to give you smudge, scratch, water and fade resistant prints with Epson papers. There are 6 individual ink cartridges, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Magenta and Black.
Though somewhat similar to Epson's Workforce series of printers that use only 3 colors, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow (and black) the Artisan series uses two additional inks. The advantage of the extra ink colors is that it gives a wider range of colors on the paper. For example when printing skin tones of lighter skinned people the printer will place down tiny drops of ink, cyan, yellow and magenta, and for the highlighted area the printer will spread out the drops to trick the eye into seeing a paler color. The problem comes when the droplets of ink are spread too far apart and become more apparent against the white paper background. This is where having the light magenta and light cyan inks is an advantage as they can be laid down in a closer pattern in place of the regular cyan and magenta, thus giving you a smoother flow to the colors the eye sees.
Another advantage of having the extra colors is smoother gradients. Sunset photos are a good example. With a three color ink printer you are more likely to experience banding, or an abrupt boundary, between colors.
Photos made with a wider range of ink colors also tend to have better contrast characteristics too.
There are two paper trays stacked on top of each other that slide into the base of the printer from the front. This allows you to switch from printing documents to printing photos without having to reload paper. Typical paper loaders that stick out from the top/rear of the printer are dust catchers and require additional desktop space, so I much prefer the Artisan's front loading dual-tray system.
Depending on how you store/display them, photos from the Artisan 700 can last up to 4x longer than those you get from your typical lab. Prints show very fine detail with ink droplets as small as 1.5 picoliters. That's the equal of some pro printers.
With its back lit buttons and 2.5" LCD display the Epson is the easiest to use control panel I've tested so far. It was easy to see and use even in a darkened room. What's even better is that the panel tilts to 6 different positions, from vertical to horizontal, making it easy to use no matter if you're sitting or standing in front of the unit. Using the LCD you can edit photos right from the printer, no computer required. You can even remove red eye, enlarge, rotate, auto correct poorly exposed photos and produce layouts with different size photos on the same sheep of paper.
The Artisan ships with basic photo edition software, optical character reader software (ABBYY Finereader 5 Sprint Plus) and other goodies in its project software which lets you create and print cards, calendars, photo books, collages and more. The Artisan 800 has even more options in that area in that you can create your own coloring book pages from photos and even personal note paper.
For less than $30 you can add the optional Epson Duplexer for automatic 2-sided printing. It will save you a bit on paper costs by using both sides of the page but be sure to use a heavier weight, more opaque, paper to keep bleed through to a minumum. The other plus using the Duplexer is easier paper handling, no more flipping and re-feeding each sheet in a multi-paged project.
Also available is Epson's Bluetooth Photo Print Adapter 2 so you can print photos directly from your Bluetooth equipped phone, PDA or laptop.
With an native resolution of 2400 DPI and 49-bit color, scans with the Artisan 700 were as good as with any dedicated scanner I've ever used. Once installed you can scan over Wi-Fi on your Mac or PC using Epson's Scan Utility. I created a shortcut to the program on my Quick Launch bar on my PC and on the Mac I made an alias of the app and dragged it to a quick access Utilities folder I have on my Dock. You can choose between three levels of control when scanning, Office mode is pretty much push a button, let the scanner figure out what type of object its scanning and set itself automatically. Home mode gives you a few preset options, and Professional mode gives you full control over the scan and output. Something to please everybody.
What I found to be a very handy feature is that scans can be downloaded, wirelessly, to your PC or Mac. Or they can be saved to a memory card using the printer's card reader. The printer supports reading (and writing) to various SD, xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, Compact Flash (CF Type I and II), plus Multimedia Cards. You can also read/write to a USB flash drive. There's also a connector on the front of the unit where you can plug in any PictBridge enabled digital camera and print/edit directly from the camera. You can even print still frames from your digital video camera.
Using its built-in software the Artisan 700 can scan and restore faded photos, without the use of a computer. You use the LCD display to help when rotating and cropping photos. It did a very good job restoring an old faded photo of my mom taken back in the 70's.
You can save scans to just about every popular format out there from plain text to Microsoft Word, even directly to PDF. Save photos in formats like JPEG, Photoshop PSD, and 8 or 16bit TIFF.
Some tips for you
- When first setting up your printer to use over Wi-Fi follow the directions in the network manual. Bring the printer over near your wireless router, attach the printer to the router via the included Ethernet cable. Run the install disc. You'll need to dig out your router's password key is. Once you finish installing the software and drivers on every computer in your house you can move the Artisan to its final location and everyone use it via Wi-Fi. Install it to use the network router, not your individual computer.
- The printer comes with a set of ink cartridges, the color cartridges labeled '99', and the black ink labled '98'. The Artisan 700 accepts two different capacity cartridges, series '98' and '99'. The '99' designates the standard capacity cartridge, somewhat oddly, the lower number '98' signifies the higher capacity cartridge. List prices are $15.99 for the model '98' color inks, $17.09 for the '98' black ink and $10.44 for the smaller model '99' color inks, no '99' black ink but there is a value pack of all the standard '99' color inks $52.94.
- Buy a spare set of inks to keep on hand because one of Murphy's Laws is 'One of your inks will run out in the middle of a print job'. With the Epson you can swap out the empty cartridge in a few seconds and chances are the printer will complete the print job without any mishap.
- You can leave the printer on, after a few minutes it will automatically go into sleep mode to save energy yet awake to do your biding when you need it.
- Be sure to register your Artisan 700 to take advantage of Epson's Preferred SM program " It will extend your limited warranty to two-years and toll-free telephone support, plus more exclusive benefits.
This Artisan 700 turned out to be one of the handiest AIO's I've used. Maybe I should call it the Di Vinci of AIOs since it does so well in so many areas. It certainly has the capability to reproduce excellent quality photos and any other type of document you throw at it. I found myself going to it more often than with my other printers. Its Wi-Fi capability is icing on the cake making it easy for anyone in the house to use it. Even when family comes over they can share their photos straight from their laptops, camera or camcorder.
If you are serious about your photography and are looking for a new printer for the home you should take a good look at the Artisan 700 for the high quality of its photo printing. Its ease of use, small foot print, included software and Wi-Fi abilities.
For more information go to Epson's web site at www.Epson.com
Printer Dimensions and Design
- 17.6" x 15.2" x 5.9" (W x D x H); 21.1 lbs.
- Wireless 802.11b/g, compatible with 802.11n
- Hi-Speed USB 2.0
- Ethernet 10/100
- Optional Bluetooth
Windows and Mac Compatibility
- Windows®: Vista , XP, XP Professional x64, 2000
- Macintosh®: OS X 10.3.9, 10.4.11 and 10.5.x
Multipurpose Paper Options
- Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy, Premium Photo Paper Glossy, Photo Paper Glossy, Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster, Premium Photo Paper Semi-Gloss, Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte, Premium Presentation Paper Matte, Presentation Paper Matte, Epson Bright White Paper, Matte Scrapbook Paper, Iron-on Cool Peel Transfer, Photo Quality Self Adhesive Sheets, Photo Sticker Refill, and plain paper
- Letter, executive, legal, A4, A5, A6, B5, envelopes, user defined 3.5"x3.5" up to 8.5"x44," and half-letter; BorderFree® photos in 4"x6," 5"x7," 8"x10," letter size, 16:9 wide
Robert Jensen has spent most of his 55 years in photography, from the age of 11 when he got his first camera (a Kodak Instamatic) to the present, shooting professionally. From 1971 to 1997 he worked in retail selling photographic equipment to people of all skill levels. For most of that period he was also a manager.