Epson SureColor P600 review

If you seek terrific coloring, Epson’s SureColor P600 delivers the hues

Epson P600 top angle tray

Epson SureColor P600

“With its new ink system, Epson’s SureColor P600 is an excellent choice for the serious photographer.”
  • Excellent color accuracy and saturation
  • Extensive media handling, including roll paper
  • Black inks great for monochrome and color prints
  • Limited to 13 inches
  • Must manually cut prints off roll paper
  • Pricey inks
MSRP $800.00

The SureColor P600 ($800) is Epson’s latest “prosumer” photo printer. It offers exceptional support for various media up to 13 inches, and uses Epson’s newly formulated UltraChrome HD inks in nine colors – four of which are blacks and grays – to produce terrific color and monochrome prints.

Features and design

The printer itself is fairly nondescript. When not in use, it’s simply a glossy, textured black rectangular box. The controls are located on the right side of the front-panel, where you’ll find a 2.7-inch color touch screen. This display is used to set up the printer and Wi-Fi, load media and roll paper, check ink levels, and perform maintenance functions such as nozzle checks and printhead cleaning.

No wide-format printer is light in weight or svelte, and the P600 will need a lot of desk space or even a table of its own (it measures 24.2 x 32 x 16.7 inches). At 35 pounds, the weight is manageable and we were able to move and unpack the printer single-handedly.

The P600 has three paper feeds – two of which are located at the rear of the printer. The primary paper tray holds up to 120 sheets of plain paper or 30 sheets of photo paper up to 13 inches wide. The second rear paper feed is used when you want to print on roll paper. There are two paper holders included in the packaging, and these are placed on either end of the paper roll, which it then attached to the printer; a door in the rear-panel opens up to feed the paper, which is activated via the touchscreen.

The third paper feed is exposed when you pull down the front-panel, which also exposes the output tray. This single-sheet feeder is for heavier art and specialty papers. It is also where you feed the included tray used for printing on printable optical media (blank CDs and DVDs).

The nine 25.9ml UltraChrome HD pigment-based inks include Photo B­lack, Matte Black, Light Black, Light Light Black (yes, there are two “lights”), Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, and Light Magenta. This wide range of ink colors gives the P600 an excellent color gamut.

The printer automatically switches between the Photo Black and Matte Black depending upon what driver and paper settings are used. Prices for the inks are $32 each (retail price). With specialty photo printers, it’s difficult to estimate yields because it depends on how many of prints of differing sizes and what the images are, and that varies from user to user. An average 8 x 10 is going to cost between $1 and $2 per print, and a 13 x 17 inch print can average from about $3 and up, depending on the paper being used. Since there are nine cartridges to replace, cost for supplies will add up over time.

As for connectivity, the P600 supports USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. The printer is also compatible with Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Epson Connect, and Epson iPrint mobile app

What’s in the box

Besides the printer, you get nine starter ink cartridges, CDs for Windows and Mac OS X installation, a power cord, roll paper holders, and a special tray to print on printable CDs and DVDs

Warranty

Epson provides a one-year limited warranty. Optional are extended service plans that cost $120 (one year) and $236 (two years).

Performance and use

As with most modern printers, setting up the P600 is easy. After inserting the ink cartridges, the printer primes the ink for about 10 minutes. We connected it using Wi-Fi, and since it supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), pairing it with our home network involved some simple button pushes on the printer and a Netgear Nighthawk X6 router/access point. The installation disc loaded Epson’s Professional Drivers and the Print CD utility for printing blank discs; we’ve used Epson’s utility to print on optical media, and while it does an okay job, we prefer Surething’s CD Labeler application.

The wide range of ink colors gives the P600 an excellent color gamut.

Because wide-format photo printers are generally slow, we didn’t test the P600’s print speed. After all, this machine is for making beautiful photos and graphics (max resolution of 5,760 x 1,440 dpi), not multi-page book reports, so we don’t see it as a con. Printing a large Super B (13 x 19 inch) image can take five minutes or more, while an 8 x 10 print can take a minute or two. It all depends on what paper and driver settings are being used; it’s not uncommon to wait 20-30 minutes, if you’re using the best paper and RAW image files. If the printer has to switch between Photo and Matte Blacks, you need to add another minute or so to the time. You’re definitely trading speed for great quality, and we’re finding the P600 is just as fast as Canon’s Pixma Pro-1.

Image quality is impressive and matched the reference prints we produced on a calibrated Stylus Pro 3880, which we use as our reference printer. (We used Epson’s Premium Photo Paper Glossy and Premium Presentation Paper Matte.) Because the P600 uses a newer ink system, the prints have a slight visual pop in color that we like. Of course, if color accuracy is more important than visual appeal, the driver has extensive color adjustment capability. And, if you own a spectrocolorimeter like an X-Rite ColorMunki or DataColor Spyder, you can precisely calibrate the printer to a specific batch of paper.

Additionally, having all those black colors does two things: the monochrome prints we generated look great, and on both the color and monochrome prints there’s excellent definition in shadowed areas where detail just doesn’t fade into the background.

Conclusion

With its extensive media-handling capability and excellent print quality, the P600 is an excellent companion to a high-end prosumer camera kit. If we must nit-pick about something, it’s the lack of a roll paper cutter that slices the print off the roll when finished and the 13-inch limitation of paper width. Other than these very minor complaints, Epson’s newest offering for the serious photographer is an excellent choice. If you need to make larger prints, the next step up in Epson’s photo line is the Stylus Pro 3880, which does not have roll paper or CD/DVD print capability but can print on 17-inch wide media.

Highs

  • Excellent color accuracy and saturation
  • Extensive media handling, including roll paper
  • Black inks great for monochrome and color prints

Lows

  • Limited to 13 inches
  • Must manually cut prints off roll paper
  • Pricey inks

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