All-in-one printers have come a long way in recent years. They’re packed with practical features, small in size, deliver high quality results, and most importantly, are super affordable!
We recently picked up an Epson Artisan 730. We have a larger professional Epson 3880 that we use for client prints and higher quality work. With the Artisan 730 we were looking for a light work office printer that could also fill in with good quality 4×6 photo prints and some quick scanning if necessary. We’ve had the printer for about a month now and so far it’s been awesome!
If you’re looking for a new home office / family printer then read on to find out more about the Artisan 730.
You can check out a minute-long commercial of the printer below. Warning: It’s cheesy.
Features You’ll Love
As with most all-in-one printers the Artisan 730 features document printing (letter & legal), photo printing (4×6, 5×7, 8×10), scanning (2400dpi), and multiple ink cartridges so you only replace what you need (pretty much the standard now).
Something to keep in mind about an all-in-one is that you’re not going to get the best of everything in one machine. Individual machines exist that are better at document printing, document scanning, photo printing, and photo scanning. But having a well rounded all-in-one can really help fill in the gaps, and prevent you from needing 4 different machines in your home!
I love not having to use printer cables! This printer connects to your home WiFi network to allow printing from any computer connected to the network. This is a super useful feature, and again something that is becoming more common with all-in-one printers.
iPhone and iPad App
You can download a free app by Epson (Epson iPrint) that will allow you to print photos directly from your phone. You can do this natively without the app, but you have a bit more control using the app (print size, crop, quality, border). You can also control the scanner, and check the ink levels right from the app. This sort of thing usually seems like a gimmick, but the Epson iPrint app is well done, and definitely makes the printer more useful!
Dual Paper Holder
This is another big convenience feature. The paper holder can hold both photo paper (4×6 or 5×7) along regular letter paper at the same time. This means you don’t have to be constantly changing the paper, and are more likely to print a photo whenever you feel like it! Now, if you want to print on 8×10 photo paper, than you will need to swap out the letter size paper.
Other holder related features: it can also print on both sides of the sheet and has an integrated CD tray for direct printing to CDs and DVDs. The nice thing about all this is that it’s really easy to use and can hold a decent amount of paper!
Now I did put the photo paper in upside down the first time, resulting in a rather messy print. In fairness there was a very obvious illustration on the tray showing how to load the paper, which I ignored. :)
Memory Card Readers
The printer has an integrated compact flash, SD, and xD memory card reader along with a USB port to connect memory cards and cameras for direct printing. I haven’t used this feature because it doesn’t appear that the printer supports printing directly from RAW files (which is the file format we typically shoot in). For anyone trying to print photos from their point and shoot cameras, I’m sure this will be a useful feature!
Tiltable Touch Panel
It’s not just the screen that tilts but rather the whole control panel. The menu is easy to navigate and the buttons are well laid out. It’s a nice feature but you probably won’t have to use this much unless you’re printing directly from a memory card, or using the scan/copy function.
Sheet catcher out and touch panel on and tilted up.
For document printing the quality is decent. You won’t want to print your master’s thesis on a machine like this—save that for a laser printer. For typical home office type use (movie tickets, boarding passes, what else do you print these days?) it works well.
Happily, the photo prints look great. I’ve really only been making 4×6 prints on some old Canon glossy paper but the results are impressive. The colours are bright and the image is sharp. The image below consists of four 4×6 prints. I have no doubt that the quality is better than most consumer print labs.
Some sample 4×6 prints. Good color and sharpness!
The photo prints are a bit on the cool side, but that could be the result of not using Epson paper.
Black & White
One thing that I did notice is that black and white photos look a bit off compared to the digital file. They don’t seem as rich in tone and contrast as they could be. They also appear a tad cool (blue). The problem with doing black and white prints on a printer like this is that it only has one black and white ink cartridge. On a professional printer (like the Epson 3880 for example) you have several different ink cartridges specifically for black and white printing (light black, light light black, photo black, and matte black).
That said the black and white prints are decent enough, but if you’re looking to do a lot of high quality black and white printing then you’ll want to check out a different printer (like the Epson Stylus Pro 3880, or Epson Stylus Photo R3000).
Another thing to mention is that professional level printers often have color profiles for various types of paper. Paper manufacturers (including Epson) will create these profiles so that the color of the prints is as accurate as possible with different types of paper. Since the Artisan 730 is a consumer level printer, you won’t find these color profiles. This basically just means you won’t be able to accurately proof your photos the way you could with a color calibrated monitor and printer profiles. I don’t see this being a huge deal, since you can’t really expect that kind of support for a cheaper consumer level printer like the 730. It’s not meant for professional level printing!
Note: I haven’t used the scanner yet so I can’t comment on the scanning quality.
Other Notes About The Printer
Setup was really easy. It went something like this:
- Took it out of the box
all the plastic wrap off
- Inserted the ink cartridges
- Loaded some paper
- Put in our wireless network password
- The printer was automatically detected by my computer and I think I was given the option to automatically install a printer driver.
- The printer had to do an initialization after which it was ready to print.
Setup time was probably 15-20 minutes, and it was ready to go.
Epson claims the printer has the world’s fastest 4×6 print speed at something like 10 seconds. If you’re printing from a computer you’ll see speeds like that, but if you’re printing from your iPhone it seems to take quite a bit longer (30-40 seconds when I counted).
Price of Ink
Epson makes both standard capacity and high capacity ink cartridges compatible with this printer. I haven’t used all the ink yet so I can’t comment on how quickly it goes through it. You can buy a 5 pack of the high capacity color cartridges for $50 on Amazon, so $10 a cartridge). You can buy the color cartridges individually for about $13. The black ink cartridge is a bit more expensive around $16.
I’ll probably consider buying generic ink cartridges for this printer. I haven’t done much research yet in terms which generic cartridges will work best, but since this printer is for light office work and fast 4x6s I’m less concerned about quality (as long is it doesn’t wreck the machine!). If you have any suggestions for where to find good generic ink leave them in the comments!
Epson Artisan 730 vs. Epson Artisan 837
Epson makes a slightly beefier version of this printer called the Artisan 837. The difference between the 730 (reviewed above) and the 837 is that the 837 has a built in document feeder that allows you to do high speed copying and fax. Unless those are priorities then go with the cheaper 730 model.
Recommended by Apple
It’s worth noting that the Epson Artisan 730 is one of the printers suggested at checkout by Apple when you’re buying a computer from apple.com or apple.ca. All the computers in our home/office are Mac and compatibility with this printer has been great!
If you’re looking for a printer for your family or home office then you won’t be disappointed by this all-in-one. If you’re a hobbyist photographer, you’ll love how quickly you can produce great looking 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10 prints. Professional photographers won’t want to use this for client work (for photo printing I mean) but for office use and quick consumer level prints it’s a pretty awesome machine!
Where To Buy
The printer is regularly priced at $199 but sometimes you can find it on sale for as much as half off!