Epson has long been a well-established name in the industry, with products ranging from printers to projectors. In addition, the company also prides itself in delivering outstanding household products for the masses, with a few hybrids thrown in between for those consumers not looking to skimp on quality for more affordable products. Although it may seem like a broken record, regurgitating the same dribble on the Ink Tank System, it is, in fact, one of the standout features on the current line of printers, drastically reducing maintenance costs in the long run, allowing the everyday man to easily afford the upkeep upon their initial investment.
As mentioned in the review of the Epson L850 Photo Printer, Epson also launched an A3 size version in the L1800. But unlike the former, the L1800 is geared almost specifically for high-quality photo prints, removing many of the standard household functionalities, such as a scanbed. At the same time, however, the company still provides a cost-effective means to producing high-end prints, something would-be buyers can surely appreciate.
Build and Design
Unlike the Epson L850, the L1800 is geared, almost specifically, for photo printing. While it is able to do standard prints, there are no other multifunction options. This means that the printer looks somewhat like printers of yesteryear, sporting on the paper feed tray and the output tray, both of which fold away nicely. Unlike other modern printers as well, there are no signs of any glossy plastic trimmings, keeping it simple in matte black. Because it is capable of printing A3 prints, the unit is quite large and carries a massic 12.5KG of weight. It is also quite wide, with dimensions of 705x322x215mm. Needless to say, you won’t be lugging this unit around often. Not much to look at really, but still a good, solid build you won’t have any issues with in terms of rigidity.
There’s also only a single option for connectivity, that of the USB cable to your PC, alongside the power outlet on the rear of the unit. The front face houses four buttons, that of the power on, paper tray override, ink override, and a cancel print option. The only other control is located on the Ink Tank System in the form of a choke valve to avoid any spillage of ink during transport, or when the printer is not in use.
As with many of Epson’s other printers, setup for the L1800 is a breeze. Once you’ve topped up the Ink Tank with its six colours, users can simply release the choke valve and continue to the Epson software setup via their PCs. The software allows many different troubleshooting options, including the nozzle check, and head cleaning, both of which run through automatically. More often than not, the head always requires a bit of cleaning upon first use. While there is the option of automatic alignment as well, I’ve never had to tinker with these settings on any Epson printer previously. In addition to running through these steps before you print your first photo, the software is also capable of presenting and highlighting possible errors and suggests means of troubleshooting these errors. Apart from the “no paper” error, there was nothing else to report during the two-week review period.
In the background, users can also delve a bit deeper into the settings of the printer, setting the photo paper size and type, the colour and gamma configuration (for which you can download a few of your own presets online), and a host of other, more trivial settings for the novice user.
To simply state that the L1800 prints amazing A3 photos would be sufficient to close this section of the review, but, at the same time, leaving it as such does injustice to its capabilities. Upon printing the first of the many borderless A3 prints, I was a bit sceptical as to the level of quality the L1800 would produce. And to my delight, it was as sharp as it appeared on my HD monitor. The only concern I had is that the colours were not 100% on the mark, but without comparing it to the original, it still looked brilliant. By downloading a different colour preset, I was able to extract the colour palette for my specification in the subsequent prints.
The results of the quality are also dependant on the quality of the photo paper, Epson providing their own Semi-gloss Premium Photo Paper for use, which delivered remarkable finishes. The unit is also capable of printing smaller pages, these including A3+, A3, A4, A5, A6, B5, C4, C6, DL, Letter, 10×15 cm, 13x18cm, 16:9, and Legal. Thanks to Epson’s own Micro Piezo technology, printing costs are reduced dramatically, and alongside the Ink Tank System, costs are at a minimum after the initial investment upon purchase. Having not previously touched on the Micro Piezo tech, it seems timely to do so now. In short, this tech allows the inkjet to propel ink by means of an electrical charge, as opposed to thermal heating on other ink cartridges. This results in less wastage, far better accuracy, as well as reliability. While this saves costs on cartridges as well, the costs are higher when the printing head is damaged, which would have to be replaced as a whole, instead of just the printing cartridge. The gains are massive over the conventional inkjet systems, but potential cost to repair damages may be high.
If you’re in the market for a solid, high-quality photo printer, with no desire for multifunction support, or connectivity options, then the Epson L1800 will far surpass your requirements. The unit produces business quality prints, from A3 to C4 and C6 sizes. And while the unit is capable of saving you a small fortune in upkeep, and ink refilling costs, there is a penalty in terms of the initial investment, with an RRP of R9,000. Yes, this does seem like a small fortune for a home printer, but the L1800 is easily capable of being adapted to business use. Even still, if you’re an avid photographer, always spending on having your photos printed in larger sizes, the L1800 would do nicely in your office.