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Epson Stylus C82: Can Epson Keep Up With Canon And HP?

Inkjet Printer: End of the Year Roundup
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The C82 claims that it has the best features around: 5760x1440 dpi, 22 pages per minute, separate cartridges. So is the printer of your dreams, or is this all just advertising hype?

The C82 has got its work cut out for it. This printer is supposed to be the flagship of the Epson general-purpose printer range until next summer. It has to deal with competition that has never been fiercer. And it has to face the HP Deskjet 5550 and the Canon i550 and i850, already available in the States, but not till February in Europe.

So, Epson needed to bring out the big guns. This summer's announcements did point that way. The C82 has the highest resolution on the market: 5760x1440 dpi. To get the most out of this, Epson has changed the color cartridges, so they are not the same as on the C70 and C80. But they don't stop there: the C82 does 22 pages per minute and has a separate cartridge system! So the idea is that the C82 is the perfect combination of low cost per page, high speed and very high resolution. Is this paradise?

We'd better put all our cards on the table now:

  • The 5760x1440 dpi serves no purpose. The competition is still way ahead for quality.
  • With regard to speed, it is not just a lot slower than Canon, it is also slower than HP, even though HP is not renowned for speed.
  • The cost per page would be low if you could use the default resolution. But the quality here is so poor that you always have to raise the resolution in the driver. This means that the C82's cost-per-page is the same as the C70.

The C82 has the same failings as the C62: it is noisy and cannot finish a job if one of the cartridges says it is empty. Regarding the noise aspect, there is no way you could set it up in a bedroom and print while your partner is sleeping.

The second failing is frustrating and really annoying: the C82 refuses to move when a cartridge chip has sent the fatal "empty" message to the printer. The chip has a counter and when a certain amount of ink has been used, it automatically sends the message, even if there is some ink left. This stops the printer in its tracks, and it will not start again until the cartridge has been changed. So, naturally, you get edgy, because what you are printing is bound to be urgent, and of course you have no spare cartridges. On other printers, you can always change your text to blue, say, and continue working on the color cartridge, or you can do black if your color cartridge is empty. Not here, you can't. "CHANGE CARTRIDGE," shrieks the printer. This really got to us, so we yanked out the cartridge and hacked it open with a screwdriver. So take that, and we'll see what you're made of! And wouldn't you know, it had made all that fuss and yet it still had some ink left, which got all over our hands and wouldn't come off, and so then we were REALLY fed up and still had to go out and buy some more.

So here is the same message we sent for the C62: please, Mr. Epson, stop talking about smart printers with their clever chips. If this is smart, we prefer stupid. Take them away!

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