Epson has been thinking big – really big – with its SureColor P20000 printer, which can create spectacular color and black-and-white prints of up to 64 inches wide, 4 inches wider than the competition. Rather than being one of the most expensive wide-format printers around, its $9,000 price tag is in the middle of the pack, making it an excellent pick.
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The P20000 can more than pay for itself with top-quality prints and the reliability to know that each will turn out well. Its ink comes in 110-, 300- and 700-ml cartridges. At about $200 for the large size, it is on a par with similar inks from the others, but a full ink set can set you back $2,000. The P20000 also has three separate maintenance ink boxes (each costs $75) to catch the overflow. They typically last for hundreds, if not thousands, of prints and take less than a minute to change.
At 95.1 x 45.1 x 38.1 inches, the P20000 is a lot of printer, and comes with a dedicated, wheeled stand that includes a fabric basket to catch its output. The printer weighs a substantial 377 pounds and will likely need three people to set it up. It's also so long that the P20000 will likely be best set up in its own room or in an out-of-the-way corner of an office.
Based on Epson's Precision Core micro inkjet technology, the P20000 has 800 nozzles that combine to print up to 1,200 x 2,400 dot-per-inch (DPI) images. That's a total of nearly 2.9 million dots per square inch at its highest quality setting. Inside, the P20000 has a 320GB hard drive for holding images and software.
Its UltraChrome Pro aqueous pigment inks set this printer apart from the crowd. With 10 colors at its disposal, the P20000 has a single yellow ink, two shades of both cyan and magenta, three different grays as well as two blacks. The result is excellent photorealistic prints with smooth gradients and details that others often miss.
The printer is just as appropriate for a photographic museum exhibition, theatrical posters or a marketing campaign. On the other hand, the P20000's output can't withstand prolonged outdoor weathering.
Unlike competitors, the P20000 has only a single roll available for input media but can also use precut sheets of paper, card stock or poster board of up 40 x 62.2 inches and between 0.07 to 1.5mm thick. Able to use matte or glossy photographic paper, Epson also sells a variety of fabrics to print on. On the other hand, there's no outdoor vinyl stock available.
Ease of Use
As the paper moves through the P20000's rollers, a CMOS optical sensor tracks its movement. If it is being fed at the wrong speed, develops slack or starts to skew, the sensor detects the problem and corrects it on the fly. The device also alerts you if there's not enough paper available to complete the job.
When it's finished printing, the P20000's automatic sheet cutter avoids skewing the edge, making for perpendicular cuts. The output print falls into a fabric catcher, ready for pickup.
Unfortunately, there's neither a multi-function model nor an optional scanner for copying large items or turning them into digital files. The printer has a 2.6-inch color touchscreen for checking on ink levels, altering the configuration and making adjustments.
It may not exactly be a speed demon, but the P20000 churns out prints at 1,311 square feet an hour in single-pass draft mode on plain paper, according to Epson. That falls to 209 square feet an hour in its highest quality photographic mode that requires eight passes. A D-size (24 x 36-inch) print takes less than two minutes.
With the ability to produce some of the most vibrant and sharp prints around, Epson's SureColor P20000 is in a class by itself with the ability to deliver 64-inch prints, wider than its competitors. Its 10-color ink system and good variety of media to print on combine for exceptionally high-quality prints.
That said, it falls short of the mark with expensive ink that can't be used outdoors, the lack of a second input roll for quickly changing the media feedstock. Unfortunately, Epson doesn't sell an optional scanner for the P20000.
The P20000 includes a one-year warranty, with two- and three-year extensions available that cost about $1,000 a year; you need to buy the extension while the original warranty is in effect. The company's website has everything from drivers, accounting tools and remote operations software to ICC color profiles for all the available media.