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Buy extra ink if you plan to use Epson's Stylus Photo R260 as your everyday printer.
What are you willing to pay for convenience? For $100, Epson's Stylus Photo R260 is an amazingly versatile photo printer, but the cost of the machine isn't the only expense you need to factor in: Ink and paper can strain your wallet as much as - or more than - the printer itself. With the Stylus Photo R260, you'll enjoy excellent image quality, but the printer will also chug ink like it was Gatorade.
The Stylus Photo R260 handles photos masterfully, producing gorgeous images, and the six included ink cartridges consistently produced realistic tones and excellent detail. When printing at best image quality, the R260 popped out a 4-by-6-inch color photo in 2 minutes and 16 seconds - not bad, but we've seen some Canon Pixma photo inkjets finish in about 90 seconds. But when we printed a 4-by-6-inch photo in fast mode, the Stylus Photo R260 finished in a blazing 36 seconds, which is on par with other printers. Fast mode is fine for everyday use.
The Stylus Photo R260 fell down a bit when it came to printing business documents, however. There was noticeable banding in the gradient background on our presentation slides, and text printed on plain paper looked a bit faded. The sharpness of the text was average - not laser sharp, but it didn't hinder readability.
We printed 81 standard prints before we ran out of yellow and light cyan ink. While that might seem like a lot of prints, take a moment to consider how many photos you take with your digital camera, especially now that 1GB memory cards are common. At $15 to $20 each for ink cartridges, you'll pay more than the cost of the printer to replace all six.
The bottom line. The Stylus Photo R260 is a photogenic partner. Just remember to buy a few extra ink cartridges up front, or you'll soon find yourself replacing those trips to the photo processor with jaunts to the office supply store.
Excellent image quality. Prints on printable optical discs.
Consumes ink quickly. Mediocre text-print speed. No memory card slots.