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So I have been tasked with finding options to replace my GIS department's recently deceased HP Designjet 815mfp (all-in-one scanner/plotter/touch screen). It was used mostly to scan/print plats, and some older maps from archives too.

We would like similar capabilities with a new solution; fast scan/printing, supports up to 42" media, easy to use. Affordable consumables like ink/printheads would be nice(one can dream). I have been doing research, but there is a bewildering amount of companies and products and minimal reviews. Budget under $20,000 US.

Are you fellow GIS pros still using HP? They are so expensive, anyone using other companies, Canon, Epson, Contex? Would like to hear you recent purchases and experiences Thanks!

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Can't comment on the scanning option but I have recently migrated from HP to Canon (HP 55000 42 to Canon iPF8300 42) and I must say that the Canon outperforms the HP on just about every level; quality, speed, ease of use.... In Canada the Canon iPF8300 was about $7500. – Jakub Jun 3 '11 at 18:33
Canon seems like it may be a viable alternative to HP. Has anyone used their multi-function scanner/plotters? The Canon iPF825 MFP looks really interesting. They are significantly less than HP but look similar to me. Am I missing something? link – CosmosMariner Jun 6 '11 at 20:25

We just purchased 8 HP 4500 series plotters. We had about every problem imaginable during the first 2 months of use and now things seem to be going better. We migrated from 1050 series and expected huge improvements. In our experience the 4500 series are slightly faster and yield slightly better quality, but the difference really isn't what we expected with technology 10 years newer. The biggest improvement is the integrated web server which enables printing/monitoring/settings via a web page.

I have heard several positive comments about Oce products, however they seem to be about double the price of comparable HP/Canon options. Apparently they are less expensive to run, so if you print high volume perhaps the difference in price could be recuperated.

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I have had a colortrac 42" for a little over a year now.
I did just have to have them out to clean the rollers but other than that it has worked nicely.
I hear they have a new software interface that is supposed to be simplified.
However, the old one worked nice and gives lots of options for color depth, dpi, format, and output.
It does a great job of copying (direct print) also.

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I don't know much about such big printers but one of the choice criteria might be the ink: If you need to use the prints on field, I would suggest having a look at Epson ink jet printers just because of the "durabrite ultra ink" (Not sure if all Epson printers use this ink, so check). This ink just resist better than any other ink even if it get wet or if the the sheet is folded and unfolded many times... From my own experience it is even better than a laser print.

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