• Price: 995

  • Company: Epson

  • Pros: High quality photographic images on sheets from A6 to A2+. Excellent B&W prints. Holds both gloss and matt inks.

  • Cons: No roll feeder. Flimsier than the Stylus Pro 4800.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Epson’s new Stylus Pro 3800 is a photographic-quality inkjet printer for any sheet size up to A2+. Priced at £995, it fills a gap in Epson’s range between the £599 A3+ Stylus Photo R2400 and the heavier-duty £1,495 A2+ Stylus Pro 4800.

All three use Epson’s UltraChrome K3 long-life pigment inks, including two shades of neutral grey for excellent B&W images.

The Stylus Pro 3800 is aimed at photographers and designers who want to print all formats up to poster size. It has a built-in ethernet port for network printing (a £208 extra with the Stylus Photo 4800), and a USB 2.0 port. However, the Stylus Pro 4800 has a roll feeder as well as a sheet feeder, whereas the 3800 only takes sheets. Card up to 1.5mm thick can be printed through a special feed slot.

The Stylus Pro 3800 is far more compact than its larger stablemates because its top loader and bottom tray fold into the main body to save space when not in use. It’s also less than half the weight of the 4800. Unfortunately, it looks less robust too, as our paper tray catch broke in use, and the gravity feeder is a little dust-prone compared to the Stylus Pro 4800’s cassette.

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Instead of the R2400’s eight tiny 13ml ink cartridges on the moving print head, the 3800 has nine, much larger, 80ml cartridges in fixed slots. The ninth slot means that the 3800 holds black for both gloss and matt papers. This is a real advantage over Epson’s other printers, since both the R2400 and 4800 require you to swap cartridges when you change paper types. 
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R2400 cartridges cost around £9 each (which works out at around £770 per litre) and require frequent replacement. The larger 3800 cartridges cost £30 plus VAT (about £380 per litre). The 4800 can take either 110ml or 220ml cartridges at £37 plus VAT or £59 plus VAT (£335 or £266 per litre respectively).
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<b>Printing costs</b>
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The 3800’s print speed is roughly 10 per cent faster than Epson’s other printers. On the 3800, an A3+ sheet at the default 1,440-x-720dpi (with High Speed and Finest Detail selected) prints in less than five minutes. For A4, it printed in just over two minutes, and at A2+ the 3800 output a print in less than six minutes. These are great times considering the quality of the output.
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Epson’s standard software drivers and menus are supplied: as ever the Windows menu dialogs are better than those provided for Mac OS X. 
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Image quality is excellent and identical to the Stylus Photo R2400 and the Stylus Pro 4800 – so deciding between them comes down to the size, price, and versatility that you need. And while the 2400 and 4800 are bettered by rival products (HP’s Photosmart B9180 and Canon’s imagePrograf 5000 respectively), there’s no real rival to the 3800 for low-cost, large-format printing. 
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