Alas, with printers the old maxim, "you get what you pay for" applies and in spades. I've use Epson from many years and after doing a lot of research as soul searching, spent money I could not really afford for the Epson 2400. It goes for about $850, but as far as I could tell, nothing else is even close. At about $550, the Epson 1800 does an excellent job with color, but does not seem to like B&W all that much. The 2400 does an equally great job with B&W and with color, but also with matte and glossy. The technology involved in that machine is mind boggling.
Contrary to what some have said about Epson, I have not found it to be temperamental at all, it just keeps on keeping on. Both the 2400 and its little sister, the 1800 both eat ink, but I've found it's worth it. The B&W tones are outstanding, easily the equal of traditional darkroom produced prints and they are truly archival, as confirmed by 3rd party testing. The 2400 is the printer which got me out of the darkroom after 50 years of serious traditional printing. If anything, the 2400's prints may even be better than traditional .
My recomendation is to suck it up (as I did), overload the plastic and go for it. If you don't print B&W, then the 1800 will also do a great job and for less money, but B&W is my thing. For a budget printer, the R200 series does a beautiful printing job for $100+, but only up to 8x10 and no one knows how long the prints will last, but it will aslos do a beautiful job of printing labels on printable CDs. From my personal experience. anything other than Epson is something which will later be regreted.
The 1280 is also a good printer and was an industry mainstay for many years, but now it's old technology, it doesn't like B&W very much and print longevity is a bit questionable.
(OK Canon guys, don't throw things at me, it's my experience.)
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.