EPSON R300, why doth thee sucketh so bad?
July 21, 2006 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I've just about had it with that total P.O.S. known as the EPSON Stylus Photo R300 printer. Not only does it suck expensive ink like a vampire (and will refuse to print in ANY color, including black, even if just one of the color cartridges becomes empty!) but using that dinky CD/DVD tray feeder to print onto is always a hit or miss proposition.

I've searched far and wide for honest, unbiased opinions about other alternatives to this printer, but in almost every other forum in which someone asks "what's a good printer that can print CDs and DVDs?", the answer that most people reflexively give is invariably, "get an Epson R300". But the irony is, that's the main reason why I have this damn printer in the first place. It wasn't until I was pointed to the the reviews of the R300 that my feelings that the printer is a lemon were confirmed.

So, I count on my fellow, brilliant MeFites to steer me in the right direction of a printer that will consistently print on CD/DVDs the *first* time I ask it to print on them, and doesn't require me to line up the printer heads with the exact location of the North Star in order for it to print properly.

I'm happy with the R300s plain-paper printing ability, so I'm not looking for recommendations based on on paper oriented niceties.

The ideal printer would have the following attributes:

* Good quality printing on CD/DVDs (either on thermal or printable white surfaces...I don't have a preference). 90% of my disc printing needs involves just text and a simple color logo for my clients. I rarely, if ever, need to print fancy schmancy full bleed disc labels, but text should at least look very sharp and professional looking (these discs usually go out to advertising agencies, who are very picky about presentation)

* Will not cripple the entire goddamned printer if even only one of the ink cartridges runs out.

* Has decent ink/toner capacity.

* Costs no more than $500

* Has both Mac OSX (PPC and Intel) and WindowsXP support (but it should at the very least have PPC OSX support).

After an embarrassing DVD printing snafu today in front of one of my clients (basically, it took me 15 minutes just to get 2 DVDs to print!), I am not exaggerating when I say that I intend to throw this R300 (and that stupid, infernal CD/DVD "feeder tray") out my window. Please help!
posted by melorama to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a specific answer to your question, being a Sharpie guy when it comes to CDs. However, in general, if you print a lot, and don't we all, office oriented printers save money in the end. They are more expensive up front but their ink cartridges are cheaper and hold more ink. I know of none in this class that print CDs though.
posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on July 21, 2006

Best answer: As regards your second requirement, you can do that with your R300. For five to ten bucks on ebay, you can buy a device that resets the ink cartridge chip, so the printer thinks the ink cartridge is full.

Most people use these so they can continue to use the cartridge in order to use up the left-over ink and thus need to buy fewer cartridges, but they're also useful for bypassing your problem. (Quick ebay search for ink chip resetter)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:14 PM on July 21, 2006

You could also look into one of the CD/DVD drives that is compatible with software that, after you've burned the DVD, you flip it over and have the drive burn an image onto it as a label. Then you wouldn't need a CD-capable printer.

Downsides - it requires that you buy DVD or CD blanks that are designed to take an image (ie have the correct photosensitive dye in them), but I was surprised at how close in price to regular blanks these are, and there is not just a single brand, either. The other disadvantage is that the image is mono not colour.
The upside, however, is that they're largely unknown, and so might present as if you have some special mastering machine (which you do, in a sense).
posted by -harlequin- at 6:20 PM on July 21, 2006

Response by poster: -harlequin-: "You could also look into one of the CD/DVD drives that is compatible with software that, after you've burned the DVD, you flip it over and have the drive burn an image onto it as a label. Then you wouldn't need a CD-capable printer."

That's an interesting suggestion, however I forgot to mention in my original post that speed of printing is aalso a very important selling point, since the client is usually sitting around, twiddling thier thumbs and waiting for you to crank out thier disc. From what I understand, those laser etching internal drives take friggen forever to print out a disc.
posted by melorama at 6:43 PM on July 21, 2006

Don't bother with a hardware resetter before you try this application.
posted by kcm at 7:08 PM on July 21, 2006

I have a Canon Pixma iP4000, which I bought based on reviews and the ability to easily print to index cards (and photos). It is Windows and Mac friendly, as well. Unfortunately, the CD-printing capability is disabled in the US version for some reason, but it is apparently pretty easy to enable with a simple mod. The mod does require making or buying a cd tray, however. Caveat - I haven't done this yet so I can't attest to the cd-printing quality, but otherwise, I have found it to be a pretty good sub-$100 printer.
posted by mysterpigg at 7:18 PM on July 21, 2006

Disclaimer: I've never printed on a CD/DVD in my life.

I do a fair bit of tech support work in schools, though, so I've been exposed to numerous brands of inkjet printer. I also own an Epson Stylus C63, which I liked very much until the first time it clogged. Now I don't like it at all.

AFAICT, the inkjet manufacturers stand up as follows:

Lexmark: don't even go there. Shit print, shit ink prices, shit driver software.

HP: Good print, fairly high ink cost, quirky mechanicals, absolutely loathsomely shitty and awful installer and driver software.

Epson: Excellent printing initially, no staying power, reasonable ink cost, OK driver software.

Canon: Good printing (comparable to HP), simple mechanicals that continue to work even after unreasonable amounts of classroom abuse, reasonable ink cost, driver and installer software trouble-free.

So, if you're in the market for an inkjet printer, I think a Canon of some sort would probably be your best bet.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 PM on July 21, 2006 [4 favorites]

FWIW I have not had any problems with my Epson R200 which I purchased on a closeout for $69.00 which was about the cost of replacing the ink on my older Epson photo printer.
posted by Gungho at 8:15 PM on July 21, 2006

as much as I hate saying it, do you have to be on the Mac? if you can do the printing part on Windows, Primera makes pretty nice dedicated CD printers. they're not cheap (new blows the crap out of your budget) but they do work pretty well and seem to last a decent amount of time. they are, however, Windows-only. (I'm assuming you've ruled out the idea of using, like, a sheet-fed Neato CD label and a stamper deal.)
posted by mrg at 9:17 PM on July 21, 2006

i have an R800 and have not had any problems printing CDs or DVDs. maybe there is something wrong with your printer? or maybe the R300 is a turkey.
posted by joeblough at 9:02 AM on July 22, 2006

I own two R300's and I have literally printed almost thousand discs on them. They are certainly a pain at times, but the biggest tip I can suggest is making sure that the white squares on the CD tray stay clean, the printer uses those for orientation before it draws the tray into the print path. This printer is perfectly capable of printing discs quickly and on command, it just needs to be kept clean. The hack suggested above to reset the ink sensor also works really well on them.

Also, a Primera printer works on both Mac & PC, I had a Bravo II and used it exclusively on OS X. Their support is decent, but the printer's biggest weakness is that it uses a multi-color print cartridge, so when one color goes the cartridge needs to be replaced. If you're doing a low volume of discs the epson is really all you'll need.
posted by bcnarc at 8:14 PM on July 22, 2006

A little late to the conversation, but I thought I'd throw in this link. It's a utility that accomplishes similar results as the chips, so you can utilize the last of your ink tanks even when one is waning.
posted by prostyle at 12:53 PM on July 24, 2006

Can someone get me CD printing software (or a workaround) to print to my R300 off a Mac??
posted by hummercash at 9:16 PM on November 8, 2006

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