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Originally published Monday, October 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Small office / Home office

Epson all-in-one printer stands alone

Used to be that I'd avoid all-in-one consumer electronic products simply because they just weren't as good as the separate, stand-alone...

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Used to be that I'd avoid all-in-one consumer electronic products simply because they just weren't as good as the separate, stand-alone models. But that's changed, especially when it comes to computer peripherals.

Take the printer, for example. Or more specifically, Epson's latest offering in their all-in-one printers category, the Artisan 800 (www.epson.com).

This is one good-looking printer that has everything you could want. For starters, it's rated at a brisk 38 pages per minute for text and as fast as 10 seconds for a 4x6 photo print. The maximum resolution is 5760 x 1400 dots-per-inch using six individual ink cartridges using their newest Claria Dye-based Hi-Definition Ink, which is smudge-, scratch-, water- and fade-resistant. Epson says these inks are of archival quality with up to 200 years in album storage, lasting up to four times longer than photo-lab prints.

The Artisan 800 is also a flatbed scanner with an optical resolution of 4800 dpi, acts as a stand-alone flatbed color copier and can handle legal-size documents when using its auto document feeder.

It's also a stand-alone color fax machine that can fax multiple pages unattended. It can accommodate a wide variety of flash-memory cards typically found in digital cameras. You can select images from these memory cards, edit them in a variety of ways and print them out, all without using a computer.

But what I really want to point out is how well the Artisan 800 gets the job done.

This is really a next generation device that's learned from its predecessors and it's got a lot of finesse.

For example, it's got an eye-candy 8-inch control panel and 3.5-inch LCD screen that displays only the buttons applicable to the function at hand. If it's showing only the buttons that can be used at the moment, it really makes it harder to push the wrong button. That's a really nice touch.

Earlier Epson printer models let you print directly to one of those inkjet-printable CD/DVD discs, but you had to snap the disc into a somewhat awkward external tray, which I was always misplacing.

With the Artisan 800, you simply insert the disc into a slot and the printing begins. Nice.

Another really slick ability is that it has networking built in. The Artisan 800 can connect to an existing network via its Ethernet port or its built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n connection, making it compatible with today's fastest Wi-Fi standard. You can have computers sending their print jobs to the Artisan 800 from anywhere on the network.

There's even a duplexer that's optionally available ($29.99) that lets you print the same page on both sides. Until recently, I've seen duplexers only on laser printers.

This is a printer that's evolved, learning from its predecessors' shortcomings. So while the sleek, black Artisan 800 may look like just another pretty face, it does one heck of a job when printing one out. Check it out. $299.99.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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