I currently have an Epson 4000 as my main printer, and I have been looking for an upgrade in print quality for a few months now. I was all enthusiastic about purchasing either a 24" or 44" wide printer, but after careful size calculations I cannot find a place for a larger printer. So 17" wide it is, at least for now. My options were to upgrade to the Epson 4800, Canon IPF5000 or the new Epson 3800.
I passed on the 4800 for a few reasons. I print on different types of papers, mixing between matte papers and semigloss/luster papers. This would require switching out the photo black and matte black cartridges often, which is both an expensive and time consuming endeavor. If you have ever primed the lines in a 4000/4800 printer, you know exactly how much time it takes to lift up and down the levers over a 20 or 30 minute period. Huge pain in my side. I would gain better out-of-the-box black and white printing, but that is about it. The minuses are more than the pluses.
So then there is the Epson 3800. It is crippled in a few ways from its more robust brother, the 4800, but there are some improvements in there at the same time.
- Lightweight compared to the 4000/4800 printers. UPS or Fedex can deliver. No shipping pallette required.
- Better for out of the box black and white printing, when compared to my Epson 4000.
- Auto photo black / matte black switching
- Built in ethernet port. This is a requirement for me, as my printing stand is stored inside of a closet on the other side of my study.
- Cannot use roll paper with the 3800. Not a big deal, because I never use roll paper to begin with.
- Build quality is not as robust as the other pro level Epson models
- 80ml cartridges are slightly more expensive per ml than the 110ml carts. More details below.
I did some research on the cost per ml of competing printers, and here are some ink cost numbers.
$1.35 / ml for HP B9180 ink cartridges
$0.95 / ml for Epson R2400 ink cartridges
$0.75 / ml for Epson 3800 ink cartridges
$0.65 / ml for Epson 110 ml ink cartridges used in 4800/7800/9800
$0.58 / ml for Canon iPF5000 ink cartridges
$0.51 / ml for Epson 220 ml ink cartridges used in 4800/7800/9800