The P900 comes with a starter set of ink cartridges and two maintenance boxes, discussed below.
The cartridges fit into a bay on the front left of the printer. The P900's inks are connected to the print head via hoses.
When the printer is initialized and ready to print, the printer reports each color is about 1/3 full.
Epson P900 T46Y Ink Cartridges
Cyan Light Cyan Vivid Magenta Vivid Light Magenta Yellow Violet Light Black Light Light Black Photo Black Matte Black Maintenance Tank
The maintenance take, Epson called it the Maintenance Box, collects waste ink from cleaning cycles and borderless over spray. The printer comes with two. The first will be filled to about 75% capacity during setup. Afterwards, tank usage slows considerably. The maintenance tank is installed behind a small door on the right side of the printer. It retails for $20.00.
Driver installation and setup was straightforward in Windows and the Mac OS. Drivers are downloaded from epson.com/support/p900 website. In addition to drivers, you can download:
Epson Connect Printer Utility Epson Photo+ Software Epson Print Layout Latest Firmware Epson Print Layout Mobile
The P900 can connect using these methods:
Hi-Speed USB 3.0 (1 port located on the rear left - shown above) 100Base-T Ethernet (1 port located on the rear left - shown above) 2.4 GHz (802.11n) and 5 GHz Wireless (IEEE802.11 b/g/n/ac) Wi-Fi Direct AirPrint Google Cloud Print Epson Print Layout for iOS
The P900 has three paper feed options.
Front media path
Optional roll adapter - $249 MSRP
Epson P900 top load tray paper guide
According to Epson, the top tray can hold up to 30 sheets of photo paper, up to 120 sheets of plain paper, and one sheet of thick fine art paper. Like the P700, the P900's feed mechanism is now located in the center of the tray, like Canon printers.
While the feed design looked promising, our experience with the main tray was less than stellar. If you are a regular reader of our reviews, you know we feel Epson paper feed design needs improvement. In the case of the P900, the paper feed mechanism is a step backwards relative to the P800. For lack of a better description, it lacks strength. The simple task of feeding a single sheet of 10 mil luster paper can become multiple misfeeds. As the printer is more or less designed around standard 10 mil RC paper, the feed trouble was disconcerting. After some use, the issue slowly dissipated. The big test came during our cost of print analysis, where 200 prints were made using UltraPro Satin. During the test, the P900 misfed (either did not feed or fed and failed) four times. A 2% failure rate is not all that bad. Later tests with larger sheets resulted in larger error rates.
Tips for Using the Main Top-Loading Tray
Epson P900 vertical paper support
You will want to monitor the printer when feeding larger sheets. With sizes like
13x19, 16x20, or 17x25, it is best practice to supervise at the P900 begins the printing cycle. Watch for paper slippage or rotation. It is a rough feeling to come back to a big print with uneven borders.
Verify the guides are lightly pushed against the edge of the paper. Do not put too much pressure on the sheet. If the guides are too far from the paper, slippage and rotation will occur.
Extend the vertical paper support so that all of the sheet is supported.
Matte papers will misfeed more than glossy or luster. If you use lots of matte paper, consider cleaning the feed roller every 100 sheets. A barely damp lint free cloth or alcohol pad will do the trick. We are looking to minimize coating buildup which will eventually cause repeated misfeeds.
Front Single Sheet Path
The front single sheet path is for thick media, fine art papers, and poster board. We recommend this path for papers 13 mil and thicker. The P900 can accept board up to 1.27 mm (50 mil). The path is activated by pulling a tab above the output tray. A tray will extend and lower, and the touch screen panel prompts you to begin the load process.
This path is fairly easy to use. It takes around two minutes from start to ready to print.
Tips for Using the Front Single Feed Path
Be careful and deliberate when feeding sheets.
Open the guides a bit wider than the paper to start. Insert the paper and align with the markings as instructed. Then snug the guides up against the sheet.
Visually inspect the front edge of the sheet and ensure it is not crooked in the tray.
When using large sheets - bigger than 8.5x11 - make sure there is enough room behind the printer. The distance from the back of the printer to any obstacles should be at least 2/3 the length of the sheet.
Front Path Paper Sizes - The driver only allows these sizes for the front path.
A2, A3, A4
8.5x11 8.5x14 10x12 11x14 11x17 12x12 14x17 13x19 16x20 17x22 B4, B3 Custom sizes wider than 8"
If you feed paper and hit resistance, open the top of the printer. Inspect the area below the print head. If it appears clear, do not force the paper. Take the sheet out of the printer. Open the back cover where the roll adapter is installed. With a flashlight, inspect the paper path. On two occasions, we experienced feed problems because six small plastic parts had moved up and into the feed path. Though not we are not certain, they could be deployed when the roll adapter is attached. If you see them, close the front path, turn off the printer, wait a few seconds then restart. That should make them retract.
An optional roll adapter is available for $249. With the adapter, the P900 can use 8" to 17" wide rolls. The adapter's design allows you to use any diameter core.
Media thickness range - 5 mil to 27 mil
Maximum roll media width - 17 Inches
Minimum roll media width - 8.3" (A4) Inches
Available borderless printing widths
8.3" (A4) 8.5" 10" 11" 11.7" 13" 16" 16.5" 17" Roll media length - Manual Cut to Desired Length
Epson states that the maximum printable length may be limited by software application, OS, available media and RIP.
Epson Media Files
New to this series of printers is the use of Epson Media Files. They appear as media types in the printer driver and contain important information such as paper thickness, platen gap, drying time, and more. These important controls used to be available in the printer driver menus. The files are created, imported, and exported using the Epson Media Installer. This app is included when you first download drivers from the Epson website.
Red River Paper includes EMY files for our papers with our P900 printer profiles. They are not required but we suggest their use with thicker papers.
Read more about Epson Media files and how to use them here.
Printer Driver Tour
Get an in-depth view of the software-based controls for the Epson P900.
Printer Control Panel Details
New to the P900 is a touch screen display which can be angled for easy viewing while standing. A number of features can be controlled via the panel.
Want the most from your P900? Take time and explore the menus and options on the printer control panel.
Among the features:
Paper loading guide
Ink level display
Printer settings menu
Maintenance processes - Nozzle check, print head cleaning
Wi-fi setup and control Firmware updates
Media Load Guide
The media loading guide is helpful when using the roll and single sheet paper paths. It also allows you to specify the media type and size at the printer. Bear in mind that these settings are overwritten by your driver settings during the print process. All in all, we would use this particular control only for loading rolls and specialty media. Leave the media setting and paper size selections to driver settings.
Printer Settings Menu
This menu contains some important settings that you need to understand and activate in many situations.
To access it - Menu > General Settings > Printer Settings
Page Setup Auto Display - On displays the Paper Setting screen when loading paper in the rear paper feeder. If you disable this feature, you cannot print from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using AirPrint. Recommend you turn it OFF.
Paper Mismatch - Displays an error when the output size or paper type settings differ between the driver and the printer.
Recommend you turn it OFF. This saves time as you only need to set the driver settings. If your printer is away from your desk or in another room, definitely turn Paper Mismatch off. Detect Paper Meandering - It is intended to stop printing if the printer detects that your paper has rotated and skewed. It is a well meaning option but we find way more false positive results, which slow down the printing process.
Recommend you turn it OFF.
Horizontal Centered - Recommend on to print the image in the center of the paper. Recommend you turn it ON.
Thick Paper - Epson removed the paper thickness and platen gap settings that were in their drivers. If you use paper thicker than 12mil on a regular basis, recommend you turn Thick Paper ON.
Print Quality Options & Results
As mentioned in the printer driver tour, print quality choices are:
Name Resolution (dpi) Notes Level 5 / Max Quality Carbon Black
5660 x 1440 No borderless printing
Level 4 / Max Quality 5660 x 1440 No borderless printing
Level 3 / High Quality 1440 x 1440 Recommended setting
Level 2 Quality / Quality 1440 x 720 Level 1 / Standard 1440 x 720
We recommend 1440 x 1440 (Level 3) quality for most print jobs. It offers the best mix of quality, speed, and ink economy. It is difficult to detect significant quality improvement when comparing 5760 x 1440 to 1440 x 1440 at normal viewing distance. For Windows users, we recommend selecting the "Finest Detail" option for best results.
Learn more about print quality settings in the
Windows or Mac printer driver tours.
The Truth About Inkjet Print Quality
There is no question that inkjet printers at the P900 level offer the best print quality you can buy. The resolution, color gamut, media compatibility, and fade resistance are simply stunning given the ease of use and cost of operation. If you are reading this review, you are either deciding which inkjet printer to purchase or if you should upgrade from a previous model. No one should be here trying to decide if print quality is "good enough" for their needs. The P900 is good enough and usually way more than most people need. That settled, let's get on with some new quality features and what different quality settings do.
Take an up-close look at prints from the Epson P900 at different quality settings.
Print Speed Examples
The image file, shown above, was printed from Photoshop on a Windows 10 computer connected via USB. Print time was measured from the first print head pass laying down ink to the point the paper was ejected from the machine.
5760x1440 Carbon Black
You can make borderless prints with the P900. Borderless sizes are preset at the factory and include:
3.5" x 5" 4" x 6" 5" x 7" 5"x 8" 8" x 10" A4 (8.3" x 11.7") Letter (8.5" x 11") 10"x12" 11" x 14" 11" x 17" A3 (11.7" x 16.5") Super B (13" x 19") 16" x 20" A2 (16.5" x 23.5") 17" x 22"
The P900 offers some custom borderless print capability. Borderless widths are chosen from a fixed menu in the Windows driver. The Mac driver does not display the available sizes or clear instructions on their use. We explain the process in the Mac driver tutorial linked below.
Learn more about the feature:
Black & White Performance
The Epson P900 can print with three black inks - Photo or Matte Black plus Light Black and Light Light Black. Using the printer driver's Advanced Black & White (ABW) mode, the three blacks are used together, although not exclusively, to make a print. The ABW system can produce truly neutral grayscale prints. Since this is a driver-based system, no ICC printer profiles are required.
ABW also has choices for cool, warm, and sepia-toned prints. Using the ABW advanced feature allows for fine-tuning of tone, brightness, contrast, and more. However, any changes to these settings cannot be soft proofed. As a result, test prints are required to perfect the output.
If you are printing a toned B&W image and want to replicate that tone with ease, print the file using a printer color profile instead of the ABW system. Keep in mind the file must be converted to B&W in your photo software before printing. Using a profile will more accurately reproduce the desired tonality when printed.
Image © Tony Bonanno
Above is an example of the ABW system and a printer profile at work. The original image file has a warm tone. The result using ABW (print on the left) is neutral and quite stunning. Using a printer profile (print on the right) maintains the image's warmth and is more accurate to the file.
The P900 is a mix of refinements and frustrations. For photographers and artists, print quality is without a doubt the best you can achieve. Color gamut and black density are excellent on a broad range of inkjet media. It is a flexible platform, able to use sheets from 3.5" to 17" wide. This means you can accomplish all manner of projects, from snapshots to greeting cards to gallery prints. Speaking of flexibility, Epson's decision to give photo black and matte black inks their own print head channel (finally!) is a big win. You can switch back and forth from matte to reflective papers without an ink swap. If you don't know what we're talking about, that's OK. Take it from us; it's a good deal.
The frustrations also need to be noted and discussed. The main paper tray feed mechanism is weak. It looks, feels, and sounds cheap. This is in contrast to the technology surrounding that part of the printer. Next is the choice to use smaller ink tanks - 50 mL capacity. The result is a higher cost per print. While the P900 costs are still a bargain compared to smaller desktop printers, the change is frustrating.
Like any Epson printer, the P900 should be used on a regular basis. Prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to clogged nozzles. If you do not print often, here's a top tip - turn the printer on once and week and run a nozzle check. Doing so will prevent annoying and sometimes expensive clogs.
It is important to note there is but one competitor to the Epson P900, the Canon PRO-1000. If you are in the market for a 17" wide photo / art printer, consider them both. The best choice depends on your needs. As always, contact RRP if you would like our recommendations.