A non-crappy printing solution.
March 5, 2012 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Best home-office printer for an artist/graphic designer?

I'm going back to freelancing (yay!) and will be working out of the home at least part time. I've been working at large agencies for the last 15 or so years, and haven't had a printer at home in a long time, since I've been just fine using the machines at work. Now I need a home machine and I don't want to spend thousands of dollars.

At first I was thinking a printer/scanner/copier is what I wanted, but as I was looking at them, they mostly seem pretty crappy, until I get in the 2000 euro plus range. There are really only two specific things I'm looking to be able do:

• Scan and copy up to A3 (tabloid)
• Print at least up to A3 on various paper weights from vellum to card stock.

I'm starting to think I may need two machines, one that is a crappier printer but does the scanning and copying I need to do, and one that is a decent printer. Any suggestions for either (or if the magical all in one machine that does these things exists) would be awesome.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For high quality, get an Epson stylus photo series printer using the ultrachrome pigmented inks. Get the biggest size you need; quality is similar across the range. Large ink tanks will save you money in the long run.

For printing documents, get a cheap b+w laser printer.

Scanners wear out more slowly than printers, and are basically mature technology. Keep them separate and you'll probably go through 2 or 3 printers in the lifetime of one scanner. So I'd only consider an all in one if you make a lot of copies and really need the convenience of a single button press.
posted by scose at 5:19 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Obviously, this depends on your budget.

The Epson 3880 might be worth looking at. It's about $1k and is a high-end photographic quality printer. Crucially, it will print on many different kinds of stock. You can open the back and feed paper straight through, so that delicate stock doesn't get damaged or bent.

Obviously, this doesn't help with scanning. While there are options (from weird brand names) on the market, I don't know of a quality scanner that's both bigger than A4 and less than $1,000. Maybe someone else can help you here.
posted by Magnakai at 5:22 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the advice above to keep your printer and scanner separate, if at all possible; all-in-one machines are usually not up to snuff for the particular needs of artists, photographers, and graphic designers. Also, if one component breaks down, it may render the entire machine inoperable which would be a giant pain in the ass to deal with, especially if you're on a deadline.

Epson and Canon are where you should focus your attention; they make quality equipment. I have a bias toward Canon printers because the Epsons I've owned always gave me clogging problems no matter how much I babied them (expensive and time-consuming to fix). My Canon i9900, on the other hand, has performed like a champ, problem-free, since 2004 -- even when I've left it unused for months at a time. (The European equivalent is the Canon i990.)

As for scanners, you can't get much better than the Epson V750 or the less expensive Epson V700; the only difference between the two is that the V750 comes with the full version of Silverfast software and the V700 comes with Silverfast SE.

To round out your setup, you might want to consider getting a Fuji ScanSnap S1500.

(Incidentally, the only reason I'm recommending an older model Canon printer is because you can still trick these printers into allowing you to use all of your ink cartridges, unlike the newer models.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:34 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry! I just noticed you said you needed a scanner that is able to do tabloid-size; neither of my recommendations will do that although they're excellent scanners. Perhaps someone else can chime in...
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:49 AM on March 5, 2012

I actually don't NEED a scanner that goes up to A3 - I just sometimes scan old books and magazines and like to do whole spreads at a time, because I'm lazy. I've been spoiled by having access to really high end equipment for years, but I could probably get my lazy ass to scan a page at a time to save money.

I did have an Canon printer years ago that I loved that would do sizes up to A3 borderless and banner roll printing as well as card stock or really lightweight papers that seems to be along the lines of the ones you've suggested. Thanks! The only problem is now I'm thinking I need to get 3 different machines. Which takes up a lot of space.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 7:00 AM on March 5, 2012

monkey!knife!fight!: "The only problem is now I'm thinking I need to get 3 different machines. Which takes up a lot of space."

I hear you. I solved this problem by incorporating my equipment into the decor of the room and by hiding my printers via the judicious use of plants. My tower, speakers, monitor and scanner are on a corner unit similar to this and my black and white laser printer sits on a unit like this. My Canon inkjet printer sits on a table similar to this. As long as you don't have kids or pets roughhousing in the same room, your equipment should be fine.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:00 AM on March 5, 2012

I can attest to the quality of the Epson V750. I've scanned some very finely detailed B&W prints with it, using Silverfast. They came out superbly.
posted by Magnakai at 1:27 PM on March 6, 2012

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