One of the advantages of an A3 printer is that it often prints A4 pages faster than equivalent A4 printers. This is because they're printed sideways and the machine can get through more pages in equivalent time, by having a wider carriage. Epson's M8000N mono laser uses this trick, as well as being able to print full A3 pages. It's intended for very busy offices, as the company claims it can print up to 44ppm.
Surprisingly, this printer isn't that much deeper than a straight A4 machine, though it is wider and higher than most. The design is conventional - set into the top surface is a deep trough, which takes the output pages and the base of this trough lifts to reveal the high-yield, combined drum and toner cartridge. There's a pull-out support at the front of the machine for when you're printing A3 pages.
At the front right is a 132 x 65 pixel, backlit LCD display, which shows up to five lines of text or be bitmapped to show graphics for status and help information. In front of the display is the usual four segment menu navigation ring, with an OK button in the centre and two further buttons to start and stop a print job.
The main paper tray can take both A3 and A4 paper and is telescopic, so only protrudes from the front of the machine when set to use the larger paper size. A pull-down, multipurpose tray, directly above the main tray, can also take both paper sizes, feeding up to 150 sheets of special media.
At the back are sockets for USB, Ethernet and legacy parallel ports, so connecting this machine into a variety of print environments should be straightforward.
Physical set up is very easy; lift the top cover and slot in the combined drum and toner cartridge, which should be good for 15,000 pages. Software installation is also simple and the Epson driver offers both PCL 6 in emulation and genuine Adobe Postscript Level 3. Drivers are available for Windows, OS X and various distributions of Linux, UNIX, Citrix and Novell.