Price: £995 plus VAT
Pros: Produces great-looking prints; compact and quiet; automatically switches between blacks.
Cons: No paper roll option; software installer needs updating.
Most A2+ printers are enormous things you need plenty of office space for, but not the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. Designed to sit on your desk – although it’ll have to be a pretty big one – and with a simple top-controlled panel and stylish matt black casing, this machine is more like a regular inkjet on steroids appealing to design studios, pro photographers and illustrators alike.
As you’d expect, it comes with both a USB 2.0 port and an Ethernet port so you can share it across a network. Getting it up and running is a breeze. The supplied software is easy to install and comes with a wide range of ICC profiles for use with Photoshop, InDesign, and so on.
A huge range of paper sizes and types are compatible too, with three paper paths to choose from – an automatic sheet feeder for plain and photo paper, a single-sheet feeder behind that for fine art paper at the back, and a third flat paper feed for thick card and board at the front. There’s no option to use a paper roll, although the printer does have a maximum paper length of 37.4 inches, which should be enough for most art or design purposes.
Inside, the Pro 3880 uses nine large 80ml tanks of UltraChrome K3 ink including matte and photo black, so no messy swapping from printing artwork to photos. Print times aren’t quick – an A3 page takes just over four minutes to produce, and 14 minutes for the same size in Super Photo mode. But printing is quiet and with remarkable quality – wonderfully detailed with strong, vibrant colours, maintaining detail even in shadowy areas, while skin tones look natural and are beautifully rendered.
For pro quality and performance, this printer is well worth investigating.