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Author Topic: Is the market for 17" printers dead?  (Read 2428 times)
Len R
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« on: April 29, 2013, 10:28:36 AM »
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I'm looking to buy a 17" printer and like many who have posted here am reluctant to buy at the end of a product cycle.  So I've been waiting for about a year but it seems that there is no product development occurring in this product segment.  The Epson 3880 was introduced in October 2009 (3.5 years ago) and the 4900 in October 2010.  The Canon IPF 5100 has been out since at least February 2008 (more than 5 years ago).  I'm wondering if 17", which is the sweet spot for my needs, is considered a "no man's land" of the printer market, because businesses will go 24" or larger, and most photographers who do home printing limit their purchases to 13" printers. 

Rebates, which usually result in speculation about a new model coming, have been around for a couple of years, so the current rebate offering doesn't seem to indicate anything.

I know I can buy what's current now and sell it on ebay when (if) a new model arrives, but really would rather not go through that process.

Wondering if anyone has thoughts, information or advice on this?

Many thanks to the informative and helpful members of this forum.

Len 
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2013, 11:00:54 AM »
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Technology forecasting is truly a mug's game unless you are way inside the industry and know things no-one else does. This has become such a matured technology that in its current state the product cycles will tend to be longer and the incremental improvements new models bring will tend to be smaller - unless some new breakthrough in materials technology or programming math creates a revolution of printing as we know it. Also to be considered is the market for new printers. One hears that demand is shifting to photo sharing on devices rather than printing them. Some are already lamenting the demise of the paper print. I'm not there yet - I still believe a photograph is an image on a piece of paper, just as much as it can be an image on a tablet. But we may be a diminishing breed of true-believers. If you need a printer, buy one, knowing that at some unpredictable time there will be something new. So it is with all devices these days. Be guided by what you need now and what is available now.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2013, 11:27:11 AM »
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Hi Len,

I would say that if you need one now, buy one. You can always wait for the new model but think of how much more experience and knowledge you will gain in the meantime if you are printing instead of waiting. Any printer within the past 5 years is excellent quality.

In my opinion I think the 17" printer size is a bit of a hit-and-miss market. They are just out of reach of many hobbyists (although I can't count how many times I've told other photographers to just spend the extra money and get better ink economics and then have to hear them complain that ink costs so much when they purchase the consumer printers) and probably too small for most pros, especially if you want to print canvas due to the extra width required for the gallery wrap (assuming one doesn't just mount the canvas). I'd say the 24" printer size is probably quite popular among serious to pro photographers who are interested in having control of their printing.

Just my 2 cents.…

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 11:30:42 AM »
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There is always a new printer [camera/computer/tablet] coming out soon. It's going to be [incrementally/significantly] better than the current model. But if the current model meets your needs, it will still meet your needs when the new model comes out.

I'm still happy with my 3800, my 5D Mark II, my first-gen 27 inch iMac, etc. I think all of them were purchased just before the new model was introduced. (In the case of the 5D, I did exactly as you and waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, knowing the Mark III was coming out, found an excellent price on the Mark II and bought it.)

If you've really been waiting for a year, that's a year that you could have been printing.
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 12:42:23 PM »
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The Epson 3880 was introduced in October 2009 (3.5 years ago) and the 4900 in October 2010.  The Canon IPF 5100 has been out since at least February 2008 (more than 5 years ago). 

You're not the only one that noticed a hole in the market. I wish I could say more about what's coming to market in the next year!
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Sal Baker
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2013, 03:17:26 PM »
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The 3880 has been so popular because of its price point, stellar output, and extreme dependability.  It may be plastic but it's a very dependable workhorse, particularly for those who print infrequently.  There's really not much that can be improved for this level of printer.   

Epson could add the head technology that's in the larger printers, but more ink carts would mean a bigger printer or smaller carts.  Plus, do we really want the technology in newer pro Epsons for the tiny gain in image quality?  They could add roll paper capability, but then it becomes a bigger and more expensive printer.  Maybe it could print slightly faster, but the market that buys the 3880 doesn't usually need high-speed capability.

Canon has been putting their resources into competing against the Epson big boys, and they're doing a great job.  If Canon launches a new 17 inch printer it will probably be excellent and push Epson towards a 3880 replacement.  Until then Epson will probably milk the 3880 for a couple of more years.

Sal
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2013, 03:57:53 PM »
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You're not the only one that noticed a hole in the market. I wish I could say more about what's coming to market in the next year!

I assume this means you know something you aren't allowed to talk about yet. :-), so a signal to the OP that if he's not in a panic to buy a printer maybe he should wait a bit?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2013, 03:59:22 PM »
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The 3880 has been so popular because of its price point, stellar output, and extreme dependability.  It may be plastic but it's a very dependable workhorse, particularly for those who print infrequently.  There's really not much that can be improved for this level of printer.   

Epson could add the head technology that's in the larger printers, but more ink carts would mean a bigger printer or smaller carts.  Plus, do we really want the technology in newer pro Epsons for the tiny gain in image quality?  They could add roll paper capability, but then it becomes a bigger and more expensive printer.  Maybe it could print slightly faster, but the market that buys the 3880 doesn't usually need high-speed capability.

Canon has been putting their resources into competing against the Epson big boys, and they're doing a great job.  If Canon launches a new 17 inch printer it will probably be excellent and push Epson towards a 3880 replacement.  Until then Epson will probably milk the 3880 for a couple of more years.

Sal

All these add-ons you're talking about for the 3880 = a 4900 :-)
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2013, 06:08:57 PM »
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I'd wait a bit.
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2013, 07:42:53 PM »
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Canon has been putting their resources into competing against the Epson big boys, and they're doing a great job.  If Canon launches a new 17 inch printer it will probably be excellent and push Epson towards a 3880 replacement.  Until then Epson will probably milk the 3880 for a couple of more years.

Yup.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2013, 07:49:57 PM »
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So we're looking perhaps at a sized-down Canon IPF6400 or thereabouts.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 09:06:47 PM »
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So we're looking perhaps at a sized-down Canon IPF6400 or thereabouts.

Nope.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 04:53:23 AM »
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Just buy a 3880.

I have the 24" Canon, but if I were doing less printing I would get the 3880 probably.  I rarely need the bigger size for single prints, but use templates to print lots of smaller pictures on the roll, and the bigger printer speeds everything up.
I think I bought the ipf6300 just before the 6400 came out, but then I got a very good trade-in for the 6100.  Waiting for new stuff is madness - you will forever be worrying.  All the printers are superb anyway.  A bit like cameras - yes they are always improving, but my 5 year-old Canon EOS still produces the goods.

Jim
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2013, 04:58:54 AM »
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A sized-up Pro-0.1 then ? Wink

Still, it would be soooo nice if it could have some roll paper capability, at least a basic one (as in Epson consumer 13" models) - that has kept me away from the 3880 (together with my epson-unfriendly environment hygrometry).
For amateurs like me, the lower foorprint of the 3880 is a big plus though - I've not really enough room to shoehorn an ipf5100 into my workspace (and there are no Canon rebates to be seen here in EU, hampering the ink cost avantage).
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2013, 07:18:50 AM »
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Nope.

OK, then an "Epson 3900" with the 4900-type head, "HDR" inkset in the 80 ml cartridge size, and no roll-holder. That would cater to the niche wanting the small foot-print, (compared with 3880) wider gamut, more precise dot placement and not needing roll paper.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 07:48:41 AM »
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OK, then an "Epson 3900" with the 4900-type head, "HDR" inkset in the 80 ml cartridge size, and no roll-holder. That would cater to the niche wanting the small foot-print, (compared with 3880) wider gamut, more precise dot placement and not needing roll paper.

HP?
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Len R
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 08:02:19 AM »
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Thanks for the replies.  What's coming "in the next year" is of course of great interest, but that may not be until a year from now.
So I suppose I'll get the 3880 for the meanwhile, and get back to printing.  Unless more clues are dropped around here.... Wink
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 08:12:44 AM »
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HP?

One can never say never, but the company has been in a state of managerial turmoil and re-organization for years, with no new offerings to speak of in this market niche over quite a long time. I'd be surprised.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2013, 10:26:57 AM »
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OK, then an "Epson 3900" with the 4900-type head, "HDR" inkset in the 80 ml cartridge size, and no roll-holder. That would cater to the niche wanting the small foot-print, (compared with 3880) wider gamut, more precise dot placement and not needing roll paper.

I think we can do better than that inkset, and ink carts that are not too big and not too small, super fast and quiet, small footprint, etc. That kind of printer isn't a niche - that IS the 17" market.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2013, 10:30:40 AM »
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OK, it will be interesting to see, when it happens.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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