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Plotter purchase: Epson 7000 or 7600, HP 800?

Sean H


I have just recently started my own Architecture office and need to purchase a Plotter. Currently I am using Microsoft ME with Autocad 2000LT and VW10 Architect. I plan on switching to Mac OSX in the near future.

My question is which plotter would be the best for me?... Due to cost and needs I'm looking at 24" Epson Stylus Pro 7000, 7600, and HP 800. I'm not sure about the 7000's compatability with Mac OSX.

Thanks, Sean H.

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Our office has an HP 800. It works beautifully so far with OSX, and with VW. I'd definitely recommend it. HP seems to have a division of their tech helpline which is very familiar with OSX, too. I can't compare it with the other printers you're looking at, though, since I have no experience with them.

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I have the epson 9600, same as 7600 except wider and it works fine in OSX. I beleive the 7000 is an older model, the 7600 is the latest of the 7000 series. I hear the 7000 had problems with the ink longevity and head cleaning. Epson has pigmented inks (ultrachrome model) which do not fade (+/- 50 years) as compared to dye based inks (+/- 6 months). Epson also has better color reproduction because they gear there printers to photogaraphers, artists, etc. The HP 800 has dye based inks and HP gears there products for engineers, architects, etc. Epson uses piezo print heads which are finer, Hp uses thermo heads which boil the ink before it sprays it out. Epson says this boiling screws up the colors, although I have seen great output from HP machines. I got the 9600 primarly for photography and fine art but it works fine for CAD also. The cheapest HP with pigmented inks is the 5000 series which is $10,000 + . The Epson consumables are probably more expensive than HP's but not by much. The HP 800 has a RIP on the plotter's hard drive which you can que up many drawings to, freeing up the computers faster especially on a network if ( a big if) you get the software to work properly. Hp's software is notorious for being funky but any large format printer takes a while to setup correctly. You might want to have your dealer set it up for you. I would not recomend doing it your self unless you like to do that sort of stuff. The base 7600 does not use a RIP but you do not really need one since OSX multitasks pretty good or print on off peak hours. A RIP can be purchased separately (lots more money) but this is more for a printhouse type of operation. For straight CAD production, I would recomend the HP. For fine art and photography, with CAD drawings too, I would recomend the epson 7600. Both are good machines but the epson is less expensive comes with one year service free, and has better output. Another consideration is if a dealer or service center is close by in case of problems. I would recomend getting the machine from a dealer that will set it up for you and provide service close by versus, buying the machine from the internet, mail order or ebay unless you like to spend hours figuring it out for yourself. This might influence your decision on which machine to go with. I have a HP dealer a 1/2 hour away for service and it has come in handy many times. I have a HP455 also, but I chose the Epson for my new plotter because I was tired of seeing my art work fade to nothing within months.

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