Best large format Photo Printer

Top 10: The Best Wide-Format Printers

Once upon a time, there were two kinds of printers—letter-size ones, and larger ones—and seldom did the two share much in common.

Inkjet printers that could print bigger than letter-size were traditionally expensive, dedicated models reserved for professionals: graphic artists outputting poster-size media, or pro photographers fashioning outsize versions of their best shots. Meanwhile, the very largest models—plotters, the big, roll-fed mega-printers you may see in passing at Kinko's and graphics shops—were the province of architects and others who needed blanket-size prints for schematics and other technical output. These big printers had big prices to match their specialist bearings, and still do.

In recent years, though, we've seen a trend toward incorporating limited support for oversize output into consumer and small-business inkjet printers. You won't be able to print poster-size 24x36-inch output on these models (at least, not on one sheet without tiling), but these models can do 11x17-inch prints (and in some cases, 13x19-inch) in small quantities.

Enter: Budget-Priced Oversize Printing

If we had to give this emerging group of printers a name, we'd call them "the Occasional Oversizers." They're a mixed bag, and their dynamics change every time one of the major makers introduces a new oversize-capable model. But they're here to stay, as more and more buyers take a fling on these models and realize just how handy it is to be able to print to big sheets now and then. You no longer have to compress and shrink that complex spreadsheet to a single page, or tape together tiled sheets. And the ability to do a one-off giant vacation-picture print for framing is nice—and these printers are, generally speaking, very capable of fine photo output.

Pricing on these models varies a bit, but most of the all-in-one machines in the lot we've reviewed below range from 0 to 0. (You can see live pricing on them below, and in the reviews themselves if you click to them to read more.) We've intentionally not covered here professional and semi-pro, photo-centric models like the Epson Stylus Photo R2000, Canon Pixma Pro-1, and Pixma Pro-100, which are really a separate class of printer altogether.

If you're looking for the ability to output bigger-than-letter-size every now and then, here are the main things to know...

PAPER-SIZE TERMINOLOGY. The most common inkjet "oversize" paper is known as tabloid stock, or 11x17-inch. All of the printers we've rounded up below support at least tabloid printing. Many of them, however, among them the HP Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One and Epson WorkForce WF-7520, also support 13x19-inch media, or supertabloid. Tabloid and supertabloid printing are referred to collectively as "wide-format" or "large-format" output in the industry lingo.

HP Officejet 7610 Wide Format

PAPER HANDLING. This varies widely, and it has a bearing on just how "occasional use" your printer will be for oversize printing. Brother's MFC-J4000-series tabloid-capable models (see our reviews of the MFC-J4510DW and MFC-J4610DW) are best suited for printing a single oversize page once in a while, not in great stacks. That's because they feed the oversize stock, one sheet at a time, through a paper-bypass slot on the back of the printer. Conversely, the Officejet 7610 has only one paper tray, but it's meant for preloading a supply of wide-format stock—which means much less babysitting for multiple-page oversize prints.

ADF DETAILS. Some, but not all, of these printers here have an automatic document feeder (ADF) that handles scanning documents and photos, if the printer is an all-in-one (AIO) model. (All of the printers reviewed below are AIOs, barring the two Canons.) Don't assume, however, that the ADF can necessarily handle all the same paper sizes that the printer can print; check out the details on the manufacturer's spec sheet. Also know that ADF functionality varies; some models can scan both sides of their sheets automatically (a feature known as "auto-duplexing"), others not.

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