- Review Price: £2126.34
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.
Now for that speed claim, which has to be the main factor in Epson putting a retail price of over £2,500 on the AcuLaser M8000N – still over £2,100 at Internet prices. There’s little doubt this is a fast printer. Our five-page text print completed in 17 seconds and the text and graphics print even quicker than that, in just 14 seconds. This equates to a speed of 21.4ppm, but when we moved to a 20-page document, the speed rose by almost a third to 30.8ppm.
Okay, this isn’t the rated 44ppm, but it’s still one of the fastest printers we’ve tested. Even when printing a 15 x 10cm photo image, at the printer’s highest quality and resolution, a page came through in nine seconds, which is impressive. A3 prints, as you might expect, take longer than A4, but a five-page A3 text print still completed in 24 seconds, which is 12.5ppm.
The quality of the prints this machine produced is also very high, with crisp, clean text looking almost like letterpress, thanks to the machine’s default resolution of 1,200dpi.
Greyscale graphics are also good, though there’s some sign of banding in some of the tones. This is also apparent in high quality mode when printing photo images and can be quite distracting in areas of smooth tone, such as sky. Detail in this mode is pretty good, but bear in mind it has to be specifically set, as the default mode prints at a much lower resolution, leaving the whole of the graphic looking as if it’s covered in fine chicken wire.
Epson runs a return programme, where it offers a considerable reduction in the price of a cartridge, if you undertake to return the empty and not try to have it refilled. There’s a high-yield product also advertised, but this turns out to be two of the 15,000-page cartridges in a single box.
This is the cheapest way to buy consumables, though, and using the cheapest prices we could find gives a cost per A4 page of 1.59p, including 0.7p for paper. While this is good, it’s not the lowest cost on the block and comparing it with the Kyocera Mita FS-1350DN, which we tested recently, you’re paying more to run this machine.
In fact, it’s well worth reading the review of the Kyocera Mita machine alongside this one and comparing feature sets, speed and most especially the prices of both machines.
What it comes down to is whether you’d rather pay over £2,100 for an A3 laser printer which can print a 20-page A4 document in 39 seconds and a five-page A3 document in 24 seconds, or under £900 for one which takes 55 and 40 seconds, but can also print duplex and costs 0.26p per page less to run. If you really need the extra speed, we guess you have to consider the AcuLaser M8000N, but it looks like an excessive premium to us.
Score in detail
Print Speed 10
Print Quality 8
|Paper Size||A3, A4, A5, A6, B4, B5, Executive, B, F4, C5 Envelope, C6 Envelope, DL Envelope, Com10 Envelope, Monarch Envelope, B5 Envelope, Letter, Half-letter, Govt. Legal, Govt. Letter, Legal, Custom Size|
|Sheet Capacity||650 sheets|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||44 ppmipm|