Interest in A3 print for business continues to increase. Rumours that HP may be readying an A3 all-in-one to compete with the ones Brother has been selling for a while is also reflected by Epson's move to sell business as well as photo-enthusiast A3 printers. The Stylus Office B1100 can handle paper up to A3+ and offers fast plain paper print, as well as four-colour photos.
As we've come to expect from A3+ printers, this is a wide machine – it was a squeeze to fit it on the limited space on our test bench – and with its front and rear paper trays extended for large paper print, it has a considerable footprint.
Unlike those printers intended for the photo fan, there are no fancy flat paper paths, just a conventional feed from a tilted tray at the rear to a flat one at the front. The input tray is only rated at 120 sheets of 64gsm paper, too, so if you intend to use the machine for general-purpose SOHO printing, you’ll have to restock it regularly. It would be handy to be able to load A3 and A4 paper at the same time.
The control panel is about as simple as it could be, with just four buttons and three indicators. The buttons control power, paper feed, ink replacement and job cancel while the indicators show power and data, paper out and low ink. At the back, a single USB socket is the only way of getting data into the machine. There are no facilities for networking or wireless connection.
The print head carrier has room for five cartridges: cyan, magenta and yellow plus two blacks. Unlike other printers that use two back cartridges, Epson doesn't intend one for plain paper print and the other for photos; they're identical.
The idea instead is that the twin black cartridges increase the page yield and both are used equally for printing black text. They can be bought in a twin pack – the one with giraffes on the front. From an ecological point of view, a single cartridge with more ink in it would be a better solution.
Driver and supporting applet installation is straightforward and there's support for both Windows and OS X, though there's no indication of any for Linux.