- HP is out. I've talked with three repair techs and all of them have suggested steering clear of these printers. They produce good prints, but are prone to break and the print heads are not made as well as the Epson print heads. This is viewed as a selling point as they are DIY re-placable, but you replace them a lot. There also seems to be an issue with getting parts. That could mean a lot of down time and usually does.
- Canon is a good solid printer that produces good solid results. However, they are fairly new to the game and the support in media profiles is not as robust as it is for Epson. Also, I had difficulty finding anyone who worked or sold the Canon printers in my area.
So, you see where this is going, don't you (much to my dismay)?
- Epson seems to still own the market. The 3 printers I am (was) seriously considering from Epson are the R1900, R2880 and the Pro 3800. There has been a lot of change in the technology in the past five years with the move from dye inks to pigmented inks. The dye inks are bright and gorgeous. And they fade. Sometimes within days. The pigment inks are not as brilliant, but the longevity is much better. How much better? Hard to say. Depends on support that the inks are printed onto, whether the substrate contains wood pulp, optical brighteners, has been bleached, how it is framed, whether it is acid free, how humid it is, whether it is in direct light and what phase the moon is in. In other words there are too many variables to really be able to assign a number to how long a print will last, but the general consensus is that it is in the area of 50 years, and that's considered conservative.
- The R1900 is more of a hobbyist's printer in that it uses the first generation of Epson's Ultrachrome Ink technology. The printer will print up to 13" x 19" and that makes it good for scrapbookers who need up to 12" x 12" page sizes.
- The R2880 prints the same size as the R1900, but uses the second generation of Epson's ink technology and is more capable of handling various media in various thicknesses. It also has improved printhead technology that makes clogging less of an issue than with the R1900.
- The R3800 is a 17" wide printer making it possible to print 16" x 20" prints with ease. It will actually print up to 17" x 38" for a panoramic print should you want to. It uses the newer ink technology, new printhead technology and is Epson's current flagship printer. I heard from several folks, salespeople, paper salesmen, and repair techs, that if they had to buy a printer, the 3800 would be the one they would buy, hands down.
As I said, I have not yet purchased one. I'm having a difficult time with the prices on these machines as the least expensive starts at $549.00. There are rebates available but that's still a chunk of change. Especially with today's economy. So stay tuned. I'm going to have to buy one eventually. Hope this helps anyone else in the painful process of making a decision on what to buy.
If you do decide to purchase a printer, I would suggest you talk to paper vendors (they hear what printers are working well with what media as well as which ones aren't) sales people (but do your own research as I ran into more than a couple who knew less than I did) and repair techs - they have the real scoop on what's holding up and what's not; which printers have parts available and which don't; and what the major problems are with each type of printer.