There are three things every wide-format printer should be: dependable, versatile and able to produce great-quality prints. Epson’s SureColor P20000 ticks all the requisite boxes and adds one more to the mix: affordability.
Granted, when you’re talking about a printer that costs more than a decent used car, affordability is relative. The P20000’s price tag will likely push it out of reach for independent designers or home businesses. Small organizations, though, or startup print shops that want to balance price with performance, will have a tough time finding a better option than Epson’s take.
Epson built a 320GB hard drive into the SureColor P20000, enough to hold the raw-quality image files for a fair few prints. Included hard drives aren’t exactly groundbreaking features in the world of large-format printing, but they can be lifesavers when you need to keep your operating PC mobile or don’t want to invest in a dedicated computer that handles print jobs and nothing else.
The included cutter is designed to separate sheets of arbitrary length, rather than slicing out curved appliques; such tasks are best suited to dedicated printer-cutters. You do have the option of feeding media through the P20000’s bypass, which means you can get creative with precut paper, but that’s a troublesome, time-consuming and ultimately wasteful process. Without an advanced cutter – or an integrated scanner, for that matter – the P20000 falls short of being a true multifunction device.
There’s always going to be a more expensive option, so picking the right large-format printer is all about getting the most value from your dollar. The SureColor P20000’s maximum print resolution is 2400 x 1200 dpi – that’s 2.88 million dots of color per inch, which is second only to Epson’s other printer on our lineup. It sports a max printing speed of 1,311 square feet per hour, and while that is in draft mode, the Epson’s strength comes from its ability to deliver surprisingly usable images even at high speeds.
Like any printer of this size, printing speed correlates with the number of passes the print head takes over each square inch of paper. While drafts can be done in a single pass, you probably want to rely on at least the four-pass or six-pass modes if you’re looking to sell the results – say, when printing posters or putting together graphics for an indoor, up-close display. You can keep ramping things up, using eight- and 16-pass printing for exquisite photos or 24-pass printing for gallery-quality prints. True, you’ll only be printing at 68 square feet per hour at these levels of quality, but the selling point here is flexibility. You can ramp quality up or down with ease, which means meeting the needs of a wider clientele.
The P20000 is one of the two widest printers we evaluated and can accommodate rolls up to 64 inches – over 5 feet across. This makes it exceptional for printing large indoor displays or protected outdoor displays, though as a pigment-based printer it’s not necessarily equipped to print material for billboards or signage that will see a lot of weathering. The extra width can be useful for large-scale banner ads, though, which are great inside malls, subways or storefronts. And with borderless printing, you can take full advantage of those 64 inches, without having to trim away whitespace.
The SureColor P20000 prints with pigment-based inks. They’re lush and bright, and they resist fading over time, but they aren’t as resilient to outdoor weathering as UV or solvent-based inks. If you’re planning to hang your media indoors, whether as part of a fancy point-of-sale signage setup or just as a beautiful poster to mount straight to a wall, pigment-based inks should do the trick. They’re perfect for glossy media.
In addition to glossy photo or poster paper, Epson’s widest printer can handle regular bond, matte and satin paper, as well as more nuanced media – adhesive-backed paper, polypropylene or even fabrics. The P20000’s adaptability is primarily due to the thickness of the media it can accept. While other printers can handle paper and stock up to 1 mm thick, the P20000 can accept stock up to 59 mil, or 1.5 mm. That means thicker cardstock options and more varieties of fabric you can print on.
The Epson SureColor P20000’s versatility makes it an easy recommendation. It can handle rolls anywhere from 10 inches to 64 inches wide. It supports borderless printing and can print on media up to 1.5 mm thick – 50 percent more than any other printer in our lineup. It can also print to vinyl, fabric, adhesives and classic paper, and it does all of this with one of the highest print resolutions around, able to handle quick-and-dirty posters or gallery-worthy images on the finest-quality art paper.
Sure, you’ll pay for all these benefits, but the P20000 is still cheaper than most of the printers we reviewed and should fall well within the budget of a budding print shop. If you need a wide-format printer that covers your most common printing needs, this is probably it.
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