Introduction: a larger version of the R800
In February 2004 Epson introduced
a new desktop printer: the Epson R800. I immediately purchased this
printer and reviewed it. (My review
is available here. Since the R800 and the R1800 share many common
features it is important you read my R800 review since I will not
be repeating what I said in it here).
Just about a year later, in April 2005, Epson released a larger version
of this printer: the R1800. In many ways the two printers are similar.
However, there are some significant differences which justify writing
a separate review. To make this review more interesting to read, and
more useful to you in helping you decide which printer to buy, I have
structured it as a question-answer session, using questions I have
been asked over email or during my recent workshops.
What it the main
advantage of the R1800 over the R800?
The main difference, and the
most important reason to purchase the R1800 versus the R800 (or upgrade
from the R800), is the maximum
print width. While the R800 can print 8.5” wide maximum the
R1800 can print 13” wide making it very attractive if you
want to make prints such as 12x18 or larger. In fact the R1800
same maximum width as the Epson 2200. The R1800 can also print
up to 44” long.
This makes choosing between the R1800 and the 2200 difficult. Let’s
look at the differences between these two printers right away.
printer should I get, the R1800 or the 2200?
Tough choice, but not
a bad one to have ;- ) Your choice should be made on the basis of
the type of prints you make.
I see three main print categories (for the purpose of this printer
comparison) and below are the winners (in my opinion) for each category:
Black and white prints on matte paper: moderate advantage to the 2200
the 2200 if you plan to print black and white prints on matte paper.
Why? Because the 2200 has a light black ink in addition to
the matte and photo black. The R1800 has only the matte and photo
I have also heard that the lack of a light black ink makes creating
totally neutral black and white prints more challenging. This is a
claim difficult to prove since I personally cannot get a truly neutral
black and white print from the Epson Printer Driver no matter which
printer I use (and I have used nearly all Epson fine art printers…).
So, while there may be some truth to this statement it is necessary
to print from a RIP from both the R1800 and the 2200 to make a reliable
comparison. Since, to my knowledge, no RIP currently supports the R1800
this comparison will have to wait.
Color prints on matte paper: it’s a tie
In my estimate printing
color prints on matte papers on the R1800 and 2200 results in a tie.
There are, as can be expected, differences
in the prints but these differences are of an aesthetic nature
more than of a technical nature. The difference is due to the different
ink sets used and to the profiles unique to each printers.
Color prints on glossy paper: huge advantage to the R1800
If your goal
is to print color prints on glossy paper, such as one of my favorites,
the stunning Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper, the
R1800 is unmatched. Why? Because it features a Gloss Enhancer cartridge
which is used to lay a transparent glossy coating over the whole
print. This coating makes metamerism virtually invisible and gives
a much glossier finish to the print. The R1800, and the R800, create
the highest quality glossy color prints of all Epson printers,
including the 4000, 7600 and 9600 which all exhibit metamerism with
Price is an important consideration for me, what do you suggest?
difference in price between the R1800 and the 2200 is $150 approximately.
With the R1800 priced at $549 and the 2000 at $699 (direct from
Epson) this makes the 2200 27% more expensive than the R1800.
So what do I suggest? Well, if price is the determining factor, and
if you are not ready to pay 27% more for just better black and white
print quality on matte papers, then by all means get the R1800. You
will still get very acceptable black and white matte print quality
and everything else being equal you will also get stunning glossy prints
while saving money. It doesn’t get any better than that right
Will the 2200 disappear and the R1800 replace it?
Not known as of the writing of this review. At this time it appears
that Epson wants to maintain two different lines of 13” wide
desktop printers: the R1800 and the 2200. Epson does not seem to want
the 2200 with the R1800. From a historical perspective the 2200 evolved
from the 2000, which was the first Ultrachrome 13” printer.
The R1800 on the other hand evolved out of the 1270-1280 lineage
which used a dye based ink set.
Which prints will last longer? Those from the R1800 or those from
It’s a tie. They are both quite similar in terms of
achievability. The 2200 had the advantage over the 1270/1280 in terms
quality. Prints from the 2200 last for 75 to 200 years (depending
on which paper is used) before noticeable fading occurs while prints
the 1270/1280 only have a 10-15 year life span. This is because the
2200 uses the pigment-based Ultrachrome ink set while the 127/1280
used a dye-based ink set.
The R1800 uses a variant of the 2200 Ultrachrome ink set. The R1800
ink set has an achievability comparable to that of the 2200 ink set,
thereby making the issue of print permanence between these two printers
What is the exact difference between the R1800 ink set and the 2200
The R1800 uses the UltraChrome Hi-Gloss ink set, a variant
of the original Ultrachrome ink set which features Red and Blue inks
instead of light
Magenta and Light Cyan. The 2200 uses Light Magenta and Light Cyan
instead of Red and Blue. All other ink colors are the same in both
printers. The use of Red and Blue ink is said to give the R1800 a
larger color gamut. While I tend to agree it is hard to say for sure
the Gloss Enhancer also gives the impression of a larger color gamut
when comparing glossy prints from the R1800 to glossy prints from
other Epson Ultrachrome printers. The fact is that between the Gloss
and the Red and Blue inks the R1800 does provide a larger gamut with
glossy color prints in my opinion.
Are there other advantages to the R1800 over the R800?
1- Easier roll paper feeding
Epson has added numerous features to the
R1800 to make paper loading a lot easier than on the R800. For one,
if you use roll paper, you
now can feed out the paper through two grooves in the front paper
tray. This prevents roll paper from curling up and potentially
going back into the roll of paper, thereby creating a paper jam, or
the print on the printer.
As a side note, using roll paper on a desktop printer is not necessarily
a good idea unless you plan to dry mount your prints. Rolled paper
does suffer from curling and the smaller the width and core size of
a roll the more significant this curl is. On the 9600, with 3” cores
and 44” wide rolls, curl is minimized and with certain papers
dry mounting is not necessary. On the R1800, the combination of a small
core and small roll width make curling a huge problem. If you do not
plan to dry mount your prints I recommend you print long images on
large sheets of paper that you cut down to 13” wide so they can
feed into your printer. Otherwise you might end up with a beautiful
print that you cannot look at because it keeps wanting to curl back
2- Easier matte paper feeding
A rubberized matte paper support handle/grip
is provided with the R1800. This handle is designed to make feeding
matte paper easier.
3- Three section rear paper guide
The rear paper guide is now taller
than on the R800, thereby providing the necessary support for 12x18
4-Better placement of control buttons
The on/off and other control
buttons are now located to the right front side of the printer instead
of on top and in the middle. This is
a huge improvement since it was very easy to hit one of the buttons
on the R800 accidentally while lifting the printer lid, replacing
ink cartridges, or even loading or unloading paper. This happened
to me several times in fact.
5- Easier CD tray feeding
The R1800 allows you to print directly onto
(no, it doesn’t play CD’s, that’s for the next generation
of Epson printers ;- ) a feature that is nice to have if you want to
print your own CD’s. The R800 offered this feature as well but
used the front paper tray to both load CD’s and unload prints
coming out of the printer. For CD’s you simply pushed this tray
up. This occasionally caused problems if you forgot to lower the tray
while trying to make a print…
The R1800 has solved this issue by offering a separate front tray
which is used only to print CD’s. This tray in held up by the
printer cover and a second tray is used for prints coming out of the
printer. When you want to print a CD you lift the printer cover and
the CD tray is lowered into printing position. A separate CD loading
carrier is then used to feed CD’s into the printer.
How good are the “canned profiles” for the R1800?
are not bad at all. In fact, with Epson printers released in the
last year or so, “canned profiles” (read profiles provided
by Epson) have become better and better. Add to this that most paper
manufacturers now make profiles for their printers available for
free, and you will find that the need for custom profiling is now
no longer necessary when you first get your printer. Of course, as
your requirements for print quality increase, you will find out that
there is no substitute for a custom profile made for your printer
only. This is because each printer is unique and therefore to get
the most out of it custom profiles are necessary. But, as I said,
Epson has worked very hard to provide us with profiles which in my
estimate are delivering a very acceptable print quality right out
of the box.
If you have questions not answered in this essay, or if
you want to add your own opinion of this printer, feel free to email
And, if you want to see first hand what a print from the R1800 looks
like visit my current print
of the Month page. My
April 2005 Print of the Month is printed on the R1800.