The 3880 came a couple of days ago. I went through the usual Epson shipping tape hunt, and found ’em all. Setup was simple using the USB port. After my Ethernet problems with the 3800, I figured I’d save the network connection for later.
In loading the ink cartridges into the printer, I had a very pleasant surprise. Except for the two magenta cartridges, the inks are the same as the 3800. I can use most of my old ink, saving me a few hundred bucks.
I had to print the paddles for the CPA auction, and I figured I’d made that my first test of the new printer. Based on the suggestion of another board member, I intended to use a Hewlett-Packard heavy matte paper (Q5445A). I opened the box, put a single sheet in the main hopper, and brought up the driver. It looked pretty much the same as the 3800 driver, so I felt right at home. I printed a nozzle test page. All nozzles present and working. I put another sheet in the hopper and printed the first paddle. It looked good. I put 25 sheets in the hopper, started the whole job. I watched the first page feed and went off to do something else. When I got back, the printer had stopped, there was a blank page on the top of the output pile, and the printer was complaining about a misfeed. It had only printed three pages. I removed the paper from the hopper, shuffled it, squared it up and tried again. This time I only got two pages before the misfeed.
Abandoning the idea of testing the 3880, I put the matte paper in the front panel tray of a Xerox 6250 laser printer. It printed much faster, but misfed almost as often, even when I told it I was loading card stock (an option not available on the 3880). The person who recommended the paper to me has a 4800, and apparently his printer has no problem feeding it. My conclusion is that this paper is hard to feed (probably because it’s got enough tooth that the sheets don’t slide easily against each other), and that the fact that the 3880 can’t handle it is not a serious reflection on the printer.
I printed a run of 50 sheets on 20 pound bond with no problem. I printed a dozen 8x10s on Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy (the paper formerly known as Premium Glossy Photo Paper; can anyone figure out why they felt they had to change the name?). The glossies printed with no problems.
Having put the main hopper through its paces, it was time to try out big paper with the rear feeder. I set the platen gap to “wide” and loaded up a 17×25 sheet of Harman Gloss FB Al. The printer took it. I printed a image, using the advanced B&W controls. It looked gorgeous. I queued up a color image, using the profile that came with the printer. I loaded another sheet of paper. I got the dreaded “paper skew error”. I tried again and again. After the fifth time, I gave up and turned the paper size check off with the printer front panel controls. Now I could load the paper. The print looked very good, but the colors weren’t quite perfect; I will have to make my own profiles, which is what I expected.
The Harman baryta-coated paper has some curl to it, much the same as baryta-coated fiber enlarging paper. I thought the curl might be giving the printer problems. To test this theory, I turned the paper size check back on and tried to load a few sheets of matte rag paper. No dice. Like with the 3800, the only practical way for me to use the rear paper feeder is to turn off paper size checking.
My conclusions are:
- The 3880 is quite a capable printer. It is small. It is quiet. It can switch back and forth between photo and matte black without wasting a lot of ink. Print quality is very high.
- The gamut is improved over the 3800 in the magenta direction.
- There is less metamerism on B&W prints than with the 3800, and the 3800 wasn’t bad in this regard.
- Except for the above, the print quality improvements over the 3800 are subtle.
- It doesn’t handle paper any better than the 3800, which was not great in this department.
- If you’re happy with your 3800, you should keep it.