Epson already produces a good range of sub-£150 photo printers that print on the standard 10x15cm high street photo size, and scale from passport shots to panoramas.
Considering that most people print their shots on this standard size, do we really need a large-format machine like the R340?
Well, it depends whether you need an all-round printer that will print a few photos here and a few A4 documents there, while excelling at neither. Clearly some compromises have been made with the R340 and one of them is print quality.
The Epson PictureMate 500 made excellent photos in 90 seconds; the R340 made textured prints with marginally unequal colour balancing in 65 seconds. We also found the R340 more difficult to use than the PictureMate. Switching paper sizes requires sliding scales about and adjustment to page setups, which is fiddly.
In its favour, the R340 can do a few niche tasks that smaller printers cannot touch. For example, while having an impressive selection of camera card memory slots, it can print A4 documents, and print on CD and DVD discs, too. But more compromises have been made: it prints a single sheet of typed A4 in 36 seconds, which is slow compared to some sub-£150 inkjets, and prehistoric against sub-£150 monochrome lasers.
Thankfully, the R340 shares some of the PictureMate's better features, if not its printing quality. Both models have identical 2.4-inch colour LCD displays and software, and both will produce prints of equal resolution at 5,760x1,440dpi when certain preferences have been maximised.
If you're happy with average documents and average photos, and don't want to buy two machines, the R340 is still bringing value to this price point. But you might be happier adding another £50-70 to your budget and dividing the money between two machines. James Ellerbeck