Gear

Epson Stylus Pro 3880

COMPACT, 17″-WIDE PRINTER WITH VIVID MAGENTA INK

After nearly three years, Epson is replacing the popular A2-size Stylus Pro 3800 with the impressive Stylus Pro 3880. The 3880 now incorporates features used by the other 80-series Epson Stylus Pro printers, including the UltraChrome K3 pigment-based inks with vivid magenta, and an ink-repellent print head to diminish clogged nozzles. In addition, the 3880 uses a new screening technology Epson calls AccuPhoto HD2, which improves precision placement of variable-size ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters.

The 3880’s brushed metallic gray and black body is virtually the same as the 3800 and, like the 3800, the 3880 has no roll paper option. The lack of a roll paper option minimizes the printer’s footprint, making it small enough to fit on a desktop. The 3880 uses a 9-cartridge ink set that contains both matte and photo black ink cartridges, and automatically switches to the correct ink based on your paper selection. The exchange is smooth, averaging three minutes with only a few ml of ink wasted in the process. It’s worth noting that included in the $1,295 price of the printer, you also get a full set of cartridges worth more than $500.

I compared the 3880 to its predecessor, printing the same files on both machines. The addition of vivid magenta gives the 3880 an edge for reproducing more accurate blues and magentas. Colors are more vibrant, there’s more highlight and shadow detail, and transitions are smoother both in color and black-and-white prints. Images printed on the 3880 are gallery quality; however, they’re not dramatically better than the 3800. If you already own a 3800, I don’t think the difference warrants upgrading. But if you’re in the market for a 17×22″ printer, the 3880 is hard to beat.—Steve Baczewski

Company: Epson America, Inc.
Price: $1,295
Web: www.epson.com
Rating: 4.5

Hot: Paper handling; excellent included ICC paper profiles
Not: Flimsy paper output tray

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