So, after 9 years I decided my EPSON 2200 needed to go as it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the print head nozzle clogs in check as well as frequent occurances of head strikes (print edge smears). The post which follows is not intended to be a review of the R3000, but rather a sharing of my selection process based upon features and personal needs.
While back in the day the 2200 was EPSON's top notch offering for color and B&W matte finished prints; attaining pleasing results (for me) was rarely straight forward. The inks suffer from metarism depending upon viewing light source (B&W prints in particular often presented either a slightly purplish or greenish hue) and often it took applying tweaks across 2-3+ test runs to achieve results close to what displayed on my color calibrated monitor. Attempting gloss finished prints presented frustrating bronzing effects. Fortunately, the 2200's immense popularity spurned a lot of online discussion and workarounds from which to learn from!
It's not my intention to dog the 2200, but suffice to say I had a pretty good idea of what improvements I would be looking for in an eventual replacement; since my printing needs are more casual in nature, I was not in a particular hurry.
EPSON Stylus Photo R3000
My search was pretty much exclusive to the EPSON printer line, while there are well respected offerings from Canon and HP, I just personally feel the most comfortable with EPSON due not only to my overall satisfactory experiences with their products, but easy accesses to ink supplies, paper ICC profiles and help resources. The R3000 emerged early as a consideration as a relatively new offering (introduced early 2011), yet out with users long enough to reveal any major shortcomings...it hit a number of hot buttons for me:
After reading a ton of reviews, about my only hesitation surrounded the possibility of spending a bit more money to step up to the R3880...deeply discounted by a current rebate promotion (as was the R3000). The R3880 is a wide format printer introduced ahead of the R3000 which uses the same K3 Ultrachrome inks, but with the following primary differences in which I offer my perspective:
17" wide paper capability - The extra 4" is very tempting, however, over the course of my printing with the 2200 I never encountered a need to even print at the full 13" wide paper it is capable of. I had at that time decided (and it still holds true) if I were to need to print on larger paper, I would submit out that work to a professional printer.
80ml ink cartridges - At 25.9ml the R3000 cartridges are already more than double the capacity of the 2200's; over the longer haul the 3880 would be even more econimical, but then again, I'm not a prolific printer and was concerned the cartridges would sit too long once installed (risking degraded performance of the opened ink).
Minimum 3.5 picoliter droplet size - A larger drop size over the R3000; while I would not expect it to be a perceptable issue, why not opt for the highest resolution?
No roll paper or WiFi - Not a real impact to me, but a nice to have.
At the end of the day, my choice was the R3000.
Printing with the R3000
In the few weeks since purchase I've pushed through a dozen or so photographic prints (all Moab matte papers) in addition to a healthy volume of basic document printing; the results have been sweet! Great detail, rich colors and no metarisms that I've been able to detect - the prints are true to what I see on my monitor, only requiring a slight boost in brightness. As excited as I am with the R3000's performance, there's a few issues that make it less than perfect:
I have not attempted glossy prints yet; the R3000 does not utilize the successful Gloss Optimizer EPSON first introduced with the R800/1800 to eliminate bronzing effects. Will get back on that one!
In summary I feel the R3000 is a highly capable printer suitable for serious amatuers. The integration of WiFi is a nice touch that easily permits full access sharing across multiple PCs and its onboard controls are simply great. Perhaps not as much a feature, but I really like the exterior case design...all panels close flush for a nice seal against internal dust and the flat top is usable for laying out prints...etc. when not in use.