Of course, the best way to create a lifelong customer is to put out quality products at affordable prices.
Our family tends to stay with what we like. And when it comes to printers, we've always been a Hewlett-Packard family, dating back to the early 90's, when a friend working at HP helped us into a laser printer at an employee discount. That printer was a workhorse that we worked into the ground... and we've been buying HP ever since.
That laser replaced an old dot matrix model from Epson. Once we took possession of the HP laser, we barely gave Epson another thought.
But nearly twenty years later, Epson is still in business, has a reputation for terrific printers - and their new products are a far cry from that ancient dot matrix contraption.
Still, I did not expect to be swayed from my loyalty to HP when I opened the box of my new Artisan 800 All-In-One printer for home and business. Sure, its curvy black exterior looked sleek and sexy, especially compared with the bland white HP model I've been using the last five years. But I couldn't get that old dot matrix printer out of my mind...
...until I set this baby up.
WOWZAH. This printer ROCKS.
While not exactly "plug' n' play," setup was easy, thanks to extremely well written documentation. The only time I had a problem was when I tried connecting the wi-fi enabled printer to my wireless network, and that was because I tried to use an "advanced" method instead of the preferred setup (using an ethernet cable to connect the printer directly to your wireless router).
Fortunately, Epson provides its printer owners with several troubleshooting options. This is good, because I'm a little bit like my husband in that I like to figure it out myself (calling tech support is a last resort).
I went to their website and viewed a video that went through the process step by step, and voila! It was done.
I printed a test page and noticed how FAST this sucker goes, even in color -- up to 38 pages per minute (WAY faster than my old HP) - and this is a six-color process (instead of four), at a resolution of 4800 dpi.
"Our IT guy prefers Epson these days," my husband informed me.
And since I put it through its paces, I'm beginning to see why.
The Artisan has features I never knew I needed:
- It has separate trays for regular paper and photo paper, so you don't have to switch, as well as a tray for printing designs and text directly onto CD's.
- It handles all kinds of media for printing; you can bypass your computer and print directly from an SD card or camera.
- It not only prints photos beautifully, but it has a setting that will allow you to scan and restore photos that have faded.
- You can make photo enlargements right through the scanner.
- You can even print from video clips!
- The Artisan 800 has a built-in automatic document feeder, which is handy for multi-page copying, scanning or faxing
- You can purchase a duplex attachment to automatically create double-sided copies
- Ink is stored on six different color cartridges, so if you run low on one color, you only have to replace that (instead of the entire thing). And if you're running low on black, it will use the other color cartridges to create black ink (until you can put a new black one in).
The Artisan 800 has one feature that seems to have been designed to order for my family: You can create lined or graph paper at the touch of a button, which is a godsend for homework nights when your child tells you she's run out of paper and needs more NOW. (What? That's never happened to you?)
Another nifty feature allows you to turn your photos into coloring pages with a simple scan.
If there's any downside to using this printer it's that we have been having so much fun with it that we had to replace some of the ink rather quickly. Of course, there are now three family members using one printer instead of each of us using one of our own... and the first color we had to replace was the dark Cyan blue (which gives you an idea of how much of that notebook and graph paper my kid has been printing).
A full set of ink cartridges from Epson was a bit on the pricey side, compared to what I've been paying for the ones our HP uses. However, I checked them out over at Costco and found it was about the same as HP cartridges at OfficeMax. Epson claims their fast drying Claria high-definition ink is better quality and less likely to fade, so the extra cost is probably worth it (especially when printing photos).
The Artisan 800 - which retails for $299 - has turned us into Epson converts. Find out more here.