Choosing An A3 Color Ink-Jet Printer For Your Office

Epson WF-7520 with Large Media

Epson WF-7520 with A3 Media

Purchasing a printer is never easy, especially when purchasing a color printer.  As we have said before, when considering an A3 color printer, most offices can get away with a combination of one or more A4 B&W printers for a majority of office applications and a single A3 color ink-jet printer for office-color applications.

Why Ink-Jet?
Ink-jet printers’ energy consumption, physical and carbon footprint, acquisition cost, cost per page and cost of ownership is a fraction of that of A3 color-laser printers.

Why A3?
Because the A3 media size provides the ability to print onto 11” x 17” (or larger) media, enabling offices to produce low volumes of brochures and booklets to be used as sales collaterals or reference materials for instance.  This eliminates the need for A3 B&W printers.

That said, our investigation into A3 color ink-jet printers unearthed several unforeseen factors:

  • There are only a very limited number of A3 color ink-jet printers available.
  • Of these, one was a Brother MFP that we did not include in our comparison because of its copy, fax and scan capabilities
  • Of the five remaining printers, two were photo printers that lacked networking and automatic duplexing, thus limiting their suitability for shared office use.
  • Finally, the three remaining printers did provide key office-printer capabilities:
    1.  Duplex printing
    2.  Networking
    3.  Enterprise-level printer-management capability

The following table shows in detail the printers’ suitability for office use:

pixma_pro_9000 epson-stylus-photo-1400 Business Inkjet 2800 OfficeJet Pro K8600 GX7000
Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Epson Stylus Photo 1400 HP Business InkJet 2800 HP OfficeJet K8600dn Ricoh GX7000
$499 $299 $399 $499 $674
Eight Ink Colors Six Ink Colors Four Ink Colors Four Ink Colors Four Ink Colors
No Duplex No Duplex Optional Duplex Optional Duplex Standard Duplex
No Network No Network Network Ready Network Ready Network Ready
1 Sheet 150 Sheets 250 Sheets 250 Sheets 400 Sheets
13” x 19” 13” x 19” 13” x 19” 13” x 19” 11” x 17”
GDI GDI PCL 3, PS 3 PCL 3 RPCS (GDI)
No Network Management No Network Management HP Remote Printer Management (RMS), HP Web JetAdmin (at NIB Level) HP Jetdirect (HP Web Jetadmin) Web SmartDevice Monitor, HP Web Jetadmin (at NIB Level)

Following are the results of Wirth Consulting’s Head2Head Winter 2009 Comparison of A3 Color Ink-Jet Printers:

Highest Rated 01_06_09 (Small)Overall Performance Winner – Ricoh GX7000

  • Has office machine-like build-quality.
  • Has office machine-like feeds and speeds.
  • Cost per page is in line with that of color laser printers.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is lower than that of most color-laser printers.
  • Networking is standard.
  • Capable printer-management.

 Lowest Color TCO and CPP Winner – Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet K8600dn

  • TCO_CPP 01_06_09 (Small)By far the lowest color TCO and Cost Per Page (CPP) to date.
  • Low B&W TCO and CPP for a color ink-jet printer.
  • Standard HP Jetdirect network interface.
  • Highly capable printer management.
  • Faster than the HP Business InkJet 2800.

Additional Advice

How can you choose between the two winners when one is a excellent business printer and the other is a very good business printer with a considerably lower CPP and TCO?

  1. High print volumes – The Ricoh GX7000 because of its faster print speeds and greater media capacity.
  2. Use as a dedicated color printer – The HP OfficeJet K8600dn because of its versatility, economy and photographic image quality.
  3. Use as a supplement to a B&W workgroup printer – The HP OfficeJet K8600dn because of its versatility and economy
  4. Use as an your only office printer – The Ricoh GX7000 because of its faster print speeds, office-machine like build-quality, ease of use and media capacity

What about the Photo Printers?

In our evaluation, we noted several potential uses for photo printers in the office:

  1. Dedicated use as a specialty color printer – The Epson Stylus Photo 1400 because of its ability to product outstanding photographic print quality with its six-color ink system, and its ability to print onto CDs and DVDs.
  2. Dedicated use as a photo printerCanon PIXMA Pro9000 because its ability to produce outstanding photographic print quality with its eight-color ink system, and the ability to print on a broad range of special Canon media.  It should produce color image quality that will satisfy the needs of virtually everyone.

Happy reading!
Terry Wirth

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