Printing and Scanning
by Tony Butka
on the OS/2 Platform
All right, darn it, I went and did it again -- IT meaning that I went out to Fry's and bought a brand new Epson C-80 printer for $99! And to cut to the chase, you should too. For one thing, I'll feel less stupid looking at the four printers at casa Butka, and for another, this is really a sweet printer for all of us who want to do it all with one printer to handle letters, articles, web printing, and the occaisional photograph/graphic at high resolution.
OK, so what's so hot about the C-80 (besides the fact that you can get drivers on the SCOUG CD or the device driver pak, that is)? There are two critical features, along with a lot of nice features. The first cool feature is that this is the first Epson that I've used which really actually likes plain paper -- plain as in the cheap xerox/laser stuff that we all get discounted at Staples and Office Depot. Wow -- right there your paper costs went in half or lower. I don't mean that you will get the perfect photograph on plain paper, but for business quality, web images and the like this puppy works just fine.
The second cool feature is that this is the first Epson that I've seen which uses four separate ink cartridges -- one each for black (extra chubby), cyan, magenta, and yellow. Thus you only replace the cartridge you need to; remember, in the other Epsons, there is a single 3 or 5 color cartridge which reports the lowest ink level of all the colors. As a result, you wind up replacing the color cartridge a lot sooner than you really need to. Not just Epson's sin, of course, but another way to force us to use too many of those expensive cartridges. So I really like this feature It's a good tradeoff for the fact that the cartridges are 'chipped,' e.g. - hard to get third party refills.
Anyhow, how is installation? Seriously simple, it turns out. Just take the printer out of the box, attach the cables, either parallel or USB port (after taking off all that sticky tape), and turn the printer on with the computer still turned off. Turning the printer on will move the holders for the cartridges so that you can install the four cartridges. In a nice move by Epson, you don't worry about taking off any tape from the cartridges -- just insert them firmly. Then close the box, press the ink button, and about 1 1/2 minutes later the system is charged with ink and you're ready to go.
Once you've got the printer running, its time to install the OS/2 drivers. In this case, we're looking for a file called epomn5us.zip, which is from Epson Japan (thanks much, folks). Extract the file and you will see the readme. Just to save you time, go to the icon view, select the Epson C-80 (your choices are C-60, C-70, and C-80). Drag and drop the icon on your desktop, and viola, your driver will appear. Not too shabby. My only advice to the unwary is that if you already have another Epson print driver installed on your system, delete it before doing the install -- I mean physically delete the directory, don't just delete the pretty icon on your screen. Also, on my setup, the default paper size was A4, which you simply need to change to US letter.
Wow, now how does all this stuff work? Really well. Actually on the limited testing that I did (PDF file under Acrobat 4 andClearlook document), printing was flawless and relatively quick compared to other Epsons and postscript printers.
Is there a downside? I think the biggest one is that you will not get the "2880 dpi" that Epson advertises for the printer (under those other operating systems). Instead under the Advanced Photo setting, you will get 1440. For me, that isn't a big problem, but I thought I'd let you know. For high end photos, there will likely be a visible difference with special papers, but I haven't had time to really fool around with this printer yet -- in fact its 6 a.m. as I write this, behind deadline again...
Next month, I'll give the rest of the details about the printer and try some different images. For now, it works, it has solid OS/2 drivers, and it's on sale. On-line prices if you search are also in the $100 category. So grab one while you can.
Keep those emails, comments, and questions coming. You can reach me at
You might want to read the last Ink.
By day, Tony Butka is a bureaucrat for Los Angeles County. In his other life he lives in a loft surrounded by computers, printers, and a host of vinyl records.
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