The affordable Epson SureColor T5270 is one of the best wide-format printers, with top resolution, image quality and an optional scanner attachment. Limited though it may be in size and speed, it packs a quality punch few can match.
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It may not have the bells and whistles or vast array of inks that its competitors do, but this 36-inch wide printer that creates surprisingly sharp and accurate prints. The price to pay for this flexibility is that the T5270 is among the slowest printers in its class. A good starter wide-format printer, the $3,995 model can be upgraded, making it one of the most flexible and adaptable wide-format printers around.
If you opt for the 320GB hard drive it will cost about $400 more. You can add a second roller for about $2,000 extra.
Available in 110-, 330- and 700 ml tanks, the price is in line with similar inks from other manufacturers. However, the Epson ink will not stand up well to prolonged weathering, so the prints should remain indoors. The T5270 also has a $75 ink overflow box, which quickly slides into place.
Among the smallest wide-format printers available, the T5270 takes up only 56- by 45- inches of floor space and is 30-inches tall. That means that just about any office can find space for it. Weighing in at 190 pounds, it'll take a couple people to set it up. The printer comes with a wheeled cart and print catcher.
Instead of the SureColor P20000's array of 10 inks, including five gray and black shades, the T5270 makes do with five aqueous pigment-based inks. They include UltraChrome XD formulations for cyan, magenta and yellow as well as photo and matte blacks.
With Epson's Precision Core print head, the T5270 can lay down droplets of a varying sizes down to as small as 3.5 picoliters. With a top resolution of 1440-by-2880 dots per inch, it is the high-resolution king, with the ability to put down over 4 million dots per square inch. Its precise printheads can create lines as thin as 0.018mm with an accuracy of +/- 0.1 percent. The output works well for anything from technical illustrations and construction plans to simple posters and banners.
Behind the scenes, the T5270 uses a Realoid processor to control the printing process but the base model lacks an internal hard drive. It can work with HPGL/2, RTL and Precision XD printer languages, but if you want to use Postscript, you'll need to get the optional 320GB hard drive that comes preloaded with the printer language.
The printer's color screen and simple control pad allow for easy configuration or media changes. It can be used with a single computer via its USB interface or connected to any client on the company's network with the T5270's gigabit Ethernet connectivity.
One of the most flexible designs on the market, the T5270 lets you mix and match hardware add-ons. The base T5270 has a single internal roll available, but it can easily be upgraded with a second roll or get the dual-roll T5270D model. The same goes for a large format scanner that can copy large originals or create 600-dot per inch digital files. You can upgrade base T5270 models or get the multi-function version of the T5270D.
Epson sells a good variety of media for the T5270, including the expected plain, bond and photo papers as well as metallic finish stock. You can use fabrics and vinyl media for specialty applications, and at any time, the printer can accommodate precut sheets or card stock of up to 36-inches wide and 1.5mm thick.
When used at its top resolution, the T5270 is a slow poke. Epson specs the printer at speeds of up to 740 square feet per hour in draft mode, less than half the speed of comparable printers. Up the output to its best quality and the T5270's speed drops to 115 square feet per hour. Still that translates to about 3 minutes to deliver a D-size (24- by 36-inches) print.
After printing, the T5270's cutter takes over and slices the print off the roll. On the downside, the printer lacks the CMOS paper movement sensor that the SureColor P20000 has.
Epson's software stands out from the crowd with an array of apps and programs, like its Excel-based accounting tool for charging departments or projects. There are drivers for everything from PCs and Macs to apps for iPads and Androids that can print, copy and scan items.
The T5270's one-year warranty is standard for the wide-format market, but many will augment it with an extended warranty from Epson. The annual service contract costs about $1,000 and needs to be purchased before the original warranty expires.