Tech on Tech

Wide-format printing for accountants

I do a lot of printer reviews for various web sites, and Epson is one of the companies I tend to review pretty often. I’m not on their payroll, but my history with the company goes back a long, long way.

One of my first printers was an Epson MX-80 dot matrix printer, which was introduced in 1980. Since then, I’ve owned or reviewed every major printer that Epson has released, including the company’s first color inkjet, and the first inkjet consumer photo printer on the market. Epson’s also very proactive in sending me units to review (though HP, Canon, and Brother also send review units. Just not as frequently). So, it’s no surprise that I have a new Epson printer to talk about.

Epson SureColor T3170

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of wide-format printing. I’ve talked about how it makes life a lot easier when you have large spreadsheets or Gantt charts to print out. But even on the several wide-format printers I have here, I still frequently wind up having to tape multiple sheets together, a process called tiling, to get a single sheet with all of the data on it. All of the wide-format printers I have that can utilize roll paper are prosumer photo printers, with the widest one, an Epson Stylus 3880, able to use 19-inch paper. But even printing in monochrome, it tends to suck down ink, and while printing in landscape mode with roll paper can accommodate the widest Gantt chart or spreadsheet, it still restricts the height to 19 inches, a limit I run into every now and then depending on what project I’m involved with.

Enter the newest review printer — an Epson SureColor T3170. The T3170 uses roll paper (though it can accommodate sheet-fed as well) up to 24 inches wide. When you print on it in landscape mode, the 24-inch width provides a lot of room for rows in a spreadsheet or line items on a Gantt chart. Epson also suggests that the T3170 is great for doing banners, which may be of interest if you occasionally need one (though many banner designs really go through a lot of ink).

The SureColor T3170 is a four-color inkjet, which the printer’s name kind of gives away. Epson’s web page targets the T3170 to CAD, architectural, and other non-accountant-oriented uses. I think they are missing the boat with that omission. Priced at just under a thousand dollars, it’s less expensive than many wide-format prosumer photo printers, like the ones I have in my office. And while Epson calls it a desktop printer, you’ll still need a pretty large desk — the printer measures 38" x 20" x 9" without the optional stand and weighs in at a hefty 60 pounds (again without the stand). I have it on a rolling service cart, and while it hangs over on both ends a few inches, it’s very stable.

The T3170 has a few other features I like. It has high-capacity ink cartridges as well as standard capacity ones. Unlike A4 and A3 size printers, wider-format printers don’t publish ink yields. I do a fair amount of printing on the unit, and I have yet to drain the set of cartridges that came with the printer.

The other thing I really like is that the SureColor T3170 has both Ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces, which gives you a lot of latitude as to where you can place it.

The SureColor T3170 isn’t for every office. It’s pretty large, and you have to order the roll paper, though that’s easy to find and not all that expensive. And a thousand bucks for a specialized printer isn’t something that every office can justify. But if you are tired of taping even 11 x 17-inch sheets together, take a look at the T3170.