Review: A3 Ink-Jet Printers and MFPs – Ricoh and Brother are Best in Class

We are firm believers in a hardware strategy that is based on our notion that the need for color printing and large format 11”x17” (ledger) printing and scanning is traditionally overstated.

For small workgroups and companies, our strategy instead would be to deploy fast, secure and economical B/W A4 MFPs for a majority of the heavy lifting (copy/print/fax/scan), paired with a lesser numbers of color A3 printers for when users need to print in color, print documents larger than 8.5”x14” (legal), and scan documents larger than 8.5”x14”. However, the cost of a toner-based A3 color printer or MFP may be prohibitively expensive for many small offices and workgroups.

What to do? For smaller A3 print volumes, consider an ink-jet A3 color printer or MFP. Ultimately, the image quality is equal if not sometimes superior, and the acquisition cost can be a fraction of that of toner-based A3 MFPs.

In this Head2Head Comparison, we compare the latest A3 Ink-Jet Printers and MFPs from every vendor – seven models in total – from Brother, Epson, Hewlett-Packard and Ricoh. After completing our requisite data analysis and performance ratings based on our extensive product-evaluation experience, we determined:

Best in Class A3 MFP – Brother MFC-J6910DW ($299.99 MSRP)

A surprising but worthy winner, as Brother has recently stepped up its game to make their devices more SMB friendly. Key considerations include:

  • Automatic duplex printing on media as large as 11”x17.” It’s one of two devices in this class that can do so (the other is also a Brother model).
  • Duplexing automatic document feeder.
  • Secure Function Lock (password-protect print, copy, fax, color print, as well as scan; set print page limits).
  • Compatibility with Brother’s BRAdmin fleet management solution and Driver Deployment Wizard.
  • Brother iPrint & Scan mobile printing and scanning solution.
  • Low Cost per Page and Total Cost of Ownership.
  • Color touch screen and wired/wireless networking.

Although it has an 11”x17” (ledger) platen glass, the duplexing document feeder can only handle originals as large as 8.5”x14”. Consequently, users who need to scan high volumes of larger originals will need to consider the equally competent Epson WorkForce WF-7510/7520, but it has a considerably higher Cost per Page and Total Cost of Ownership.

Best in Class A3 Printer – Ricoh Aficio GX e7700N (Web price-$1,117.99)

We’ve always been fans of Ricoh’s GelSprinter line of printers and MFPs. Because of their business-class construction, they cost more than competitive ink-jet products, but make up for it in the long run due to the lowest Cost Per Page in this class. Business-class performance is what sets this printer apart from the others:

  • Business-class design, construction, software and feature set.
  • Compatibility with Ricoh’s @Remote and SmartDeviceMonitor/Web SmartDeviceMonitor network- management solutions.
  • Web Image Monitor embedded Web server.
  • Fast-drying gel-based ink provides superior duplex printing productivity.
  • High-yield ink cartridges yield 4,000 pages each.
  • Lowest Cost Per Page in this class, and lowest Total Cost of Ownership at monthly print volumes exceeding 2,000 pages.
  • Expandable media supply (up to 600 pages).

Additional Resources

(Watermarked, not-printable, and not for distribution or linking)

(Not-watermarked What You Should Know Evaluations for personal use only)

Indices of Related Reports

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