Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And now... about Epson

For the past three years I have been using Epson printers. I used to use Canon printers before that but there came a time when the Canon broke down and I needed a printer. It may have been that I couldn't find another Canon at the time, or it was more likely the case that I found an Epson that was substantially cheaper.

Enter my first Epson. It's official title is "Epsone Stylus Photo R210". It's a cheapie but it did great photos with six seperate ink tanks and could print directly to printable CDs and DVDs. I like the idea of having six seperate ink tanks. If one colour runs out you only have to replace that colour. Most HP and Lexmark printers (as well as some Canons) have up to three colours in one cartridge. So if you run out of yellow for instance, you have to throw out blue and red because they're in the same cartridge.

It came with some cool software called "Epson Print CD" that, as you might guess, lets you design your own CD/DVD lables and while it's quite limited, it was adequete for my needs.

Like most consumer electronics, it came with a one year warranty and developed problems within a month of running out of warranty. This one started having issues with the mechanism that fed the printable disk tray in and out of the machine and the print head started to fail.The second one, an "Epson Stylus Photo R230" was a direct replacement. Identical shape, just without the black semi-transparent lid. It even took the same cartridges so I didn't have to throw away my spares. It was even able to use the same CD/DVD tray for printing labels!

It also came with a new version of the Print CD software which was a good thing because although the printer seemed do be pratically identical, my old Epson Print CD software didn't think so at all. It was at this time that I realized that you can't seem to aquire this Print CD software without actually buying a printer. You can't download it from the Epson site, there are no updates for it and no one sells it.

It was four weeks out of warranty when it decided to stop feeding paper.I got this one last week. It is called an "Epson Stylus Photo R290". Clearly they have sacked the guy who was designing the R200 series. It looks different. It looks flimsy and cheap. Then again, they've all been cheap printers. The R290 is bigger and very much squarer. It uses a different CD/DVD tray for printing lables and uses differnt ink tanks too. Wasted are the six spare tanks I had in sitting the drawer. And then there is the included software.

Again, the previous version of PrintCD didn't like the new printer. A new version of Print CD was included on the CD that came in the box so I popped it in and installed the driver and the new Print CD software.

Then there were real problems.

The new Print CD would have an error every time it started up stating that it could not start because it was missing a dll file.
DLL stands for "Dynamic Link Library" and basically it is a file containing a library of commands or instructions that any program can access. There are hundreds of them in your Windows system and they are accessed by many of the programs that you have installed on your computer. During the nineties computer technicians referred to the complex mess of DLL files as "DLL Hell". Not much has been done to fix the problem since then.
Anyway, my new install was missing a file called "PICSDK.dll" so I went searching Google and Epson support for solutions. I found nothing helpful at Epson Support and Google found lots of people with the same problem. Some of them had contacted Epson about the problem only to find that Epson didn't care. Some forums reported being told by Epson that the dll was part of Windows and that they should get the file from Microsoft! A search of the Microsoft support site for PICSDK.dll returned no results so it definitly wasn't a Microsoft file.

After a bit more scouring I found a site that allowed me to download a copy of the DLL file and I put that into the Print CD program folder and it worked! Well... it opened anyway...

I was able to knock up a DVD lable but when I hit the print button I got another error message. It read "The EPSON printer driver dealing with CD printing is not installed.". I had installed the driver that came on the CD with the printer. Okay, no problem, I knew where the Epson support site was so I went back to it and got the latest driver for my CD printing printer. No problem, installed okay. Back to Print CD. Same error. WTF??

The workaround is to click "ok" and then click the "Manual" button and set up the printer through the printer properties to print using the CD/DVD tray. But I gotta say that this latest effort from Epson is bloody lousy. It's like they never even bothered to test the software and the driver together. In fact with all the updated versions of the Print CD software I have yet to see any tangable improvement to the inteface or functionality.

This is the worst Epson printer I have ever owned and although it does everything my previous printers did it manages to be bigger, uglier and more cumbersome. And the software intergration is appaling.

Might have to try out a Canon when this one dies. It would be just my luck that it plagues me with its unpleasantness for years...

1 comment:

John Locke said...

Epson Printers have best variety of Ink and Cartridge for the user who wish to print much in one day without any break.