Top positive review
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One Outstanding Printer
on October 3, 2011
This is the best printer that I've ever owned. Period. Considering how many printers I've gone through, that's saying a lot. Let's go through the various pieces and I'll show you why I like it so much....
Print Quality - It's rather trite, but the number one job of a printer is to print. The print quality of the Artisan 837 is outstanding. Using decent quality paper, the output is sharp and clear. Small point type is very readable and fine lines are clearly defined. Normal single-sided printing is very fast. Two-sided printing is considerably slower, as the printer waits for the ink to dry before printing the second side.
Photo Printing - The Artisan 837 adds two more color cartridges to the standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black mix. By including a light cyan and light magenta cartridge, it's possible to produce prints with subtle shades and smoother color gradation. More expensive, dedicated photo printers (e.g. Epson R1900 or R2880, Canon PRO9000MkII) add in still more ink colors and can produce larger prints, but this printer produces excellent prints for all but the most discerning user. There is one application where I wouldn't recommend this printer - very high quality black and white photo printing. If you plan on producing high resolution B/W prints, you should look at the Epson R2880 or the Canon Pro9500MkII. Those units have light black and other cartridges designed specifically for that application. Outside that, though, prints from the Artisan 837 are truly stunning. Like all photo printers, the print quality depends on the quality of the original photo, the paper stock and the print speed. The advertised 10 second 4x6" print speed is for premium glossy photo paper in draft mode, but even that produces a pretty good print.)
Paper Tray - If you're tired of pulling the paper tray and adjusting the guides every time you want to print a photograph, the Artisan 837 has a solution - the paper tray simultaneously holds both photo and regular paper in two different sections. At my house, I'm keeping 4x6 photo paper loaded in the top section, while the bottom holds standard printer paper...the printer automatically selects the correct paper depending on what's being printed. The downside of this arrangement is that the tray has a fairly small capacity, only holding 120 pages of normal 20lb paper.
CD/DVD Printing - I don't use too many CDs and DVDs anymore, but when I did, I used a Black Sharpie marker to label my disks. (Except when I was feeling ambitious and had time to burn. Then I used LightScribe disks) No more. The Artisan 810 has an integrated tray to feed printable CD's into the printer. Just about anything that you can think of - Illustrations, photos and/or text - can be directly printed onto the disk's surface. Even if what you're printing is just a list of file names, it's better than writing them out by hand. One of the included software programs formats text and pictures to fit on the CD's surface. It's nothing fancy, but it works.
Scanning - Direct to PC or USB - Buttons on the touch screen display allow you to select the destination of a scanned document. The scanned image can be sent to any computer that has the Epson drivers installed. The file can be saved in .jpg or PDF format. OCR software (ABBYY FineReader) is included in the software package to convert scanned documents into editable text. Like most all-in-one units, the scanner only scans one side of the page.
Document Feeder - Swinging the feeder input tray closed also lifts the feeder's output tray to make a smooth top...cosmetically it's nice, but more importantly, it also reduces the chances of paperclips and other office debris falling inside. I've copied a 30 page document without a problem...the maximum thickness of the paper stack is spec'ed at 3mm, or roughly 1/8"
Faxing - It works. Outside of color faxing, which isn't really new, there's nothing too exciting here...punch in the number, hit the button and off it goes. You can store far more numbers than you're likely to ever need in a speed dial directory. You can also assign numbers to various groups, so you can easily send the same fax to multiple locations.
Copier = Scanner + Printer - As I mentioned above, I've copied a 30 page document without a problem. Along with two-sided printing, you can also automatically copy both sides of a paper. With CD printing as one of the features, the Artisan also incorporated a CD/DVD copy mode. You put the original CD in the middle of the glass and hit the dedicated "Copy CD/DVD" button. The firmware is smart enough to correct minor centering issues.
Touch screen controls - Between the keypad, function select buttons, various setup and navigation buttons and everything else, most multi-function machines have a ton of buttons on their front panel. By using a touch panel that just displays the necessary buttons, the Artisan 837 considerably simplifies the user interface. The displayed buttons are bright, readable and large enough to easily use. The viewing angle for the panel is not very large; however the assembly can be tilted upwards to make it easy to read when you're standing over the printer. One concern that I have has to do with the tilt mechanism...it can easily move up, but you have to push a release to get it to rotate back down. The latch seems very flimsy and I'm pretty sure that it will break when someone inevitably pushes down on the screen without pushing the release.
Ink consumption - With 6 different ink cartridges, ink can get expensive. As always, your ink usage will depend on what you're printing. Standard business correspondence uses virtually no ink when compared against glossy photos. Single page business letters seem to run in the 10-12 cents per page range; 8x10" color photos might as well have a direct line into your local ATM. There are both standard and high-capacity versions of the cartridges available - I always recommend getting the high capacity version. Cartridges are available individually and in multi-pack boxes. I also recommend that you keep a spare set around at all times. The printer stops printing when any one of the cartridges runs dry and that inevitably happens Thursday at 11:30pm when the kid's trying to print out her homework.
Connectivity - Both wireless (802.11 b/g/n certified) and wired networking is supported, although you can only use one at a time. It was very easy to configure the networking and I had the printer up and running inside of five minutes. It would have been even faster if I'd read the instructions. Even a non-technical user should be able to quickly get it installed and working. If you're going to be using the printer wirelessly, plan on initially use a wired connection to get it configured...you can do it through the front panel, but it's a lot more button pushes. Once the printer is up and running, you can disconnect and move it to wherever it's going to live. The Epson advertising says that you can print directly from various wireless devices...I haven't tested that feature yet, but with the right software, there's no reason that it shouldn't. I'll update this review after I've played with it.
Memory Card + USB port - Nothing too special here. Like any other printer with a display, you stick in the memory card, select the picture you want to print and go. The USB port was designed to supply enough power to allow it to be used as a charger for iPods, cell phones and similar devices. You obviously need to supply the correct cable.
Extras - Coloring Page, graph paper and lined paper printing - Not exactly a reason to purchase a printer, but nice extras - The Artisan 837 can print lined notebook paper and graph paper. Since most office supply stores use notebook paper as a loss-leader to get customers in the door, I wouldn't plan on using this to fill up your binder. On the other hand, it's certainly convenient if you need a couple of pieces quickly. The ability to turn a picture into a coloring page is another extra. Kids get bored on a car ride? Print out some pages and have them color them in. Just don't leave crayons on your back seats and park in the sun. Trust me.
This is a really good, general-purpose, all-in-one printer for a family or home office. It's fast, has excellent print quality and a well designed feature set. It was obviously designed by an experienced engineering team. This is my eleventh all-in-one printer, the sixth one that I've reviewed for Amazon, and the second one that warrants five stars...an older Artisan model was the first. Highly recommended.