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3.8 out of 5 stars
Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Color Inkjet Printer (CA61201-VM)
Price:$1,129.92 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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436 of 440 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2009
This printer was purchased to replace an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 that I have been using for about the past 3 years. When the 4000 came out, it was supposed to be technological breakthrough and had multiple rave reviews. Ultimately, I've been disappointed with it, both from a "quality of final print" and "ease of printing" standpoint. The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is two generations beyond the 4000, and corrects the major flaws of its predecessor.

I consider myself an advanced amateur photographer, having printed all of my own photographs (B&W and color) in the darkroom for more than 25 years. I'm really comparing the results of the Stylus Pro printers to the best results that I could achieve using traditional methods. Digital photography is going to replace 99% of traditional photo processing, so the standard seems fair.

From a print quality standpoint, the SP 4000 suffered from significant bronzing (metallic sheen when viewed at an angle), metamerism (color shifts dependent on lighting) and gloss differential (difference in sheen depending on thickness of ink sprayed in an area). The majority of these flaws have been addressed by the latest generation of ink (Ultrachrome K3 with Vivid Magenta) and the newest printhead. On B&W prints, where bronzing was the biggest issue, bronzing is now completely absent on prints using Epson Exhibition Fiber paper and Ultra Premium Luster. I also don't appreciate any significant color shifts (metamerism) when viewing prints under different lighting conditions or different angles. Gloss differential has been significantly improved, but not completely eliminated. With the SP 4000, the ink would turn glossy surfaces semigloss, leaving a very distracting pattern. With the SP 3880, the only areas with subtle gloss differential are areas where there is no ink at all (washed out highlights). If there is any ink at all on the surface, the print looks even and smooth, even on glossy paper.

The quality of the prints are really quite amazing. For the first time in my life, I looked at a couple of prints that I made in the "Advanced B&W" mode and had to admit that they were as good as anything that I could have produced in the darkroom. The Epson Exhibition Fiber paper (F surface) has a look and feel very similar to the Ilford FB (fiber based) Glossy paper that I used to print on. The color prints are also stunning. Although the Ilfochrome prints I used to make had a level of color depth and saturation that was hard to beat, these SP 3880 prints are at least 98% as good with 20% of the effort and 100% better control (via Photoshop).

The machine itself appears reasonably well built and thoughtfully designed. It's not quite the beast that the 4000 was, but that's mostly a good thing. This machine can actually be lifted by one person and takes up a footprint that's about 20% less than the 4000. The front door where the prints come out does seem a bit flimsy, but with care it should hold up. The only unanswered question for me regards ink jet clogging. The SP 4000 was very difficult to unclog if it sat unused for a week or two. I would estimate that at least half my ink went towards unclogging the print head. I understand that the newest generation is supposed to be better, but I'll find out over the next few months. Right now, the printer is being used nearly daily, trying to reprint all of the pictures that I was 80% satisfied with in the past.

In summary, the Stylus Pro 3880 is a significant advancement from older machines. It might not be enough to justify upgrading from a 3800, but if you're using a 4000/7600/9600 generation machine, you'll never regret it.

Addendum: The one year follow-up!
After one year of printing fairly regularly, I have to say that I am still very pleased with the printer. The most amazing thing, by far, is the fact that the ink jets have never clogged even once. The old SP 4000 clogged even after 5 days of disuse. Although I'm generally printing small photos, I'm actually still on my first set of ink cartridges. I easily went through 5-10 times the amount of ink with the SP 4000. I didn't realize how much ink I was actually wasting clearing the ink jets regularly (in spite of never running a "power" cleaning). My only minor complaint with the printer is still the mild gloss differential. For more critical prints, I've sprayed on PremierArt's Print Shield with good results. No other issues so far and many outstanding prints in both color and B&W.
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230 of 234 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2010
The 3880 is Epson's entry-level professional printer. It was announced in September 2009 and as of the end of 2009 it's still in short supply, but it's worth waiting for. As a pro-level device, each one is supposedly aligned at the factory and the ink tanks hold 80 ml each vs. the 11 ml cartridges for the top end of the consumer line (Epson 2880). It prints 4" wider than the 2880. It weighs about 45 pounds and it can be moved into place by one person.

I'm an amateur who likes to be in control of the print, so I don't use photo printing services. I upgraded to a 3880 from an Epson 2200 (bought in 2003) for three reasons. (1) I wanted to print black & white and while the 2200 was a groundbreaking color printer, its B&W output is not very good. (2) The 3880 print head is coated with an ink repellent substance that is supposed to reduce clogging, which is a constant problem with the 2200. (3) The 3880 prints up to 17" wide so it can produce 16 x 20 or even 16 x 24 prints. Despite its ability to print 4" wider, it's only a couple of inches wider than the 2200. Although the 3880 is double the price of the latest 13" wide Epson (the 2880), you get a full set of 80 ml ink tanks, so you get enough ink to make up for the price difference as part of the 3880 package. You just have to use it up before it turns to sludge, but it has a 2 year shelf life.

The 3880 is easy to set up once you get past the 46 pieces of blue tape holding the various parts in place. There's a well-designed quick installation poster and a very good printed manual. The printer driver installed flawlessly from the CD onto a Windows 7 computer. it can be linked to a computer as a local printer via its standard USB port, but I set it up as a network printer using an Ethernet cable from the printer to a router. If you set it up as a network printer, be sure follow the clearly written network installation guide for each of the computers on the network. The guts of the printer appear to be quite solid. There's a lot of plastic on the outside and the large outfeed feels light duty. The previous model 3800 was criticized for its flimsy outfeed tray, but the 3880 has a magnetic catch so you can push the tray back into the front and close it up securely when it's not in use. That will reduce the risk that a casual bump will damage the tray.

Of course excellent output is what we're looking for in a relatively high end printer. Before decommissioning my 2200 I ran a standard test image that includes gradations of white and black in increments of 2, from 2 to 254 on the standard 0-256 RGB scale. Then I printed the same file on the newly installed 3880. The test print also had bars with smooth gradations of RGB colors and a number of "real" pictures - strawberries; a black & white image, a face, etc. For the 3880, I could distinguish a black point at about 4 and a white point at about 254 (on Epson Premium Glossy paper). The 2200's black point was about 12 and the white point was about 244. That means (at least to me) that the 3880 is capable of printing a very wide range of densities in a black & white image, which is exactly what I was looking for. And the color from the 3880 was truer to the image on my calibrated monitor than the print from the 2200, which is what one would expect given that the inks have improved considerably since the 2200 was designed.

Broadly speaking, my experience with the output is that it matches the monitor reasonably well, and if you use the soft proof feature of Photoshop (see below) it's possible to get a very good match. Note that you should calibrate your monitor using a colorimeter (Spyder or similar device). This is a critical first step, as most monitors have default settings that are far too bright. (If you don't calibrate your monitor, at least turn the brightness down to about 20%.)

When you print, you also need to tell the printer's software what paper you're using so it will use the right paper profile. (A profile is a set of directions that helps the printer match its output to the characteristics of the paper). Epson provides a full set of profiles for its own papers as part of the installations software. Manufacturers of other brands of papers (Ilford, Hahnemuele, etc.) are beginning to post profiles on their web sites for the 3880 (as of December 2009).

The 3880 and its predecessor 3800 use a special black ink for paper with a matte finish (whether you're printing color or B&W). The printer's software knows which type of black to use based on the type of paper you select when you set teh image up for printing. The matte black cartridge is installed in the printer alongside the "photo black" cartridge, so they don't have to be swapped back and forth, a tedious process that uses ink on the 2200 and its successors. But the 3880 does have to purge the lines of the photo black before it can print the matte black, and then it purges again when it reverts to photo black. If you print on both glossy/luster/pearl surfaces and on matte, you'll want to batch prints by paper type, because even the automatic switchover uses a couple of dollars of ink.

One other caveat - the 3880 does not come with a roll feed. If you want to print from rolls (as you might in a semi-production environment) you need Epson's 4800, which is about 40 pounds heavier and quite a bit more expensive. However, you can print up to 37 inches long for making panoramas. You just have to cut the paper off a roll by hand to get that length.

Thus far I've been using Epson and Ilford papers. The printer can be fed by stacking standard thickness paper in the feed-in tray, or by feeding single sheets in from a slot in the back, or by feeding thicker sheets in through the front. I haven't tried thicker sheets, but the feeding has been flawless with standard papers from 4 x 6 on up to 13 x 19. (17 x 25 will soon follow). The printer driver is very well thought out. There's an option on the screen that allows you to select "Advanced Black & White" and it yields B&W prints with very good gradations in density. They're slightly better than if you use the standard color portion of the driver for a B&W print. But I hasten to add that the color output is superb - this printer isn't just for black & white prints. It seems to be the perfect device for prints as wide as 17", which is about as large as I can think about for most amateurs and many professionals.

Finally, a word about soft proofing. (This has nothing to do with the 3880 specifically. It applies to any image you plan to print on any photo printer.)

Paper reflects light coming at it from the front. Monitors are lit from behind the screen. So what you see on the monitor is never the same as what you see on the print. Nonetheless the colors and the tone (degree of brightness) should match. You can greatly improve the match by calibrating your monitor as noted above. If you use Photoshop, you can also view a "soft proof" before you print. First, edit the image to your satisfaction. Then duplicate it (Image:Duplicate). Arrange the original and the copy on the monitor so they're side by side, or above and below. Click on the copy, Then click View:Proof Setup:Custom and select the paper you plan to use for the print. Check the "Simulate Paper Color" box below the image. You'll see how the print will come out of the printer. If you're using a glossy paper, there won't be as much of a difference as when you use a more textured finish. You can adjust the exposure and color balance of the copy so that it matches the original, and then when you print the copy, your output will match the original. (I save this "proof copy" if I plan to reprint the image.)

Summary: The 3880 is an excellent printer. It's two generations newer than the Epson 2200, which was the first reasonably priced high quality color inkjet for photos. Epson has moved the bar again, and when you look at the prints, it's hard to know what more one could ask for.

----
Edit 8-30-2010: Epson inkjets are known to clog if they're not used regularly. My 2200 would need its print nozzles cleaned if it wasn't used at least once a week, and cleaning uses a lot of ink. In the 8 months I've had the 3880 it has never required nozzle cleaning even though it's been unused for as long as 3 weeks. I run a nozzle test pattern if it's been idle for more than 2 weeks, and the patterns have been perfect. Epson seems to have solved the clogging problem with this printer.
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198 of 206 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
I think I should have done better research before purchasing. This is a good printer, but probably not right for my needs.

I've been using it for about 6 weeks now alongside an older Epson R1800. I use it for graphic design, mostly Illustrator/vector art in a small business setting printing approximately 40-60 sheets per week.

The pros:

1. The color is beautiful (much more vibrant than the R1800)
2. The printer is relatively small for what it does
3. Print speed is reasonably fast, even at the highest quality settings
4. Ink seems to last a long time

The cons:

1. Rear paper feed almost never accepts a sheet on the first try, and sometimes doesn't take it after many, many tries (paper skew errors, paper jams)

2. Only 1 sheet at a time can be placed in the manual feed because the intake mechanism turns constantly and will pull all sheets into the printer. This slows down printing quite a bit because you have to stand there and wait for 1 print to finish before inserting another sheet.

3. The default paper feed tray is automatically set and reverts while making changes to print settings. This causes problems when paper is not in the tray the printer has defaulted to.

4. The switch time between photo and matte black ink is REALLY long, and once it begins the process can't be stopped or interrupted. This switch happens automatically when the paper tray changes (see #3)

5. There are no paper settings for certain sized Epson papers (ie, 13x19 is not available). These settings can be created, but why not just include them?

I hope this is helpful.

=================

I wanted to add further comments to this review now that I've been using the printer for about 3 months.

I've since learned that the Epson 3880 does not work correctly with Adobe Illustrator or Indesign. The software is incompatible, and causes the printer to reset the print preferences without warning. This causes the matte and photo black inks to switch out repeatedly, wasting an exorbitant amount of ink and time. Although I've never used the photo black ink to print, I'm already half finished with my second cartridge. I contacted Epson and got this response: "Adobe Illustrator and InDesign both exhibit an issue where it resets your settings unless you perform them in a specific order. There isn't anything we can do about this. it is recommend that you do page up and then click the printer button and then immediately print. make other changes to their print menus will run the risk of your page setup or driver settings being reset."
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
Verified Purchase
I almost felt bad not rating this printer at 5 stars, but it does have a couple small problems that make it less than perfect. First off, it is a remarkable machine that produces superb prints of artwork. All final digital product is, of course, dependent on the filtering and scanning that the intake and digital manipulation software provide, but the quality of printing for line drawings, ink washes, and similar works really impressed me. I have not done a lot with photograph reproduction, but what I have done was also impressive.

It is not, however, a perfect machine. The settings process which has to be done per print, or saved as a custom batch setting is cumbersome. The layout is a bit awkward and makes it difficult to remember to go through every setting and tweak it for your particular batch printing job. You can establish your own profiles, but not every setting is included in the profile which means you might still have to tweak the settings for even the minute differences in a batch. As per tech support, the layout options per print are dependent on the software you are using to order the print job. The manual paper feed at the rear of the machine is EXTREMELY sensitive to paper being cocked a little to one side or the other (so sensitive that I truly believe it is imagining things). I am actually completely unable to determine what the problem is in each instance, and simply wiggle the paper a tad in its position, and try again. The output print is pushed hard against the right side of the machine, which is ridiculous considering the amount of space there is to work with. It tends to catch on the sundry little irregularities and joints in the plastic located there when using thin/flimsy paper. Thicker paper seems to glide over it without issue.

All in all, I can highly recommend it for quality of output and economy of use (relative use of "economy" here - these are very high quality prints and not dirt cheap), but it is not a 'set it and forget it' producer of batch prints. You do need to stay on it from start to finish. The last and final aggravation is that if you miss setting a paper-type change that requires matte black ink when you've been using photo black ink or vice versa, it undergoes a purge of the system, spilling all the 'other' type of ink into a waste tray. This is better than having to change out ink cartridges, but once it begins there is no way to stop it without shutting down the machine mid process which I'm sure is not recommended. However, if you don't, it will finish purging the one type of ink and then reloading with the other, and will do the whole thing in reverse when you correct your settings. A phenomenal waste of ink. There desperately needs to be an "abort" button to halt all processes in mid stride considering how easily you can miss a setting.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 17, 2010
Verified Purchase
The main reason I used to justify the cost (to myself and my wife) for buying the 3880 was the ink cost. The ink cartriges are 8 times the size for 3 times the cost of the R1900 ink. I really like my Epson R1900 printer and still have it, but it is now religated to back-up and DVD/CD printing. But the cost and low amount of ink in each cartridge was killing me.

The 3880 was a lot bigger and heavier than I expected. I kidded myself reading the specs that it was only a little bigger than the R1900. It's not, it's a lot bigger.

Set up was easy. I love that it is a true network printer, so that the information is bi-direction even from a wireless computer.

The prints are spectacular. I used Eye-One to calibrate my monitor (on my Mac Pro with 2 24" cinema displays) and the prints are as close to my monitor as I have ever had before. The advanced B&W mode is also spectacular. Finally perfect B&W prints.

As of now, I've had the printer about a month. I've printed 40 17x22 full color (non-white background) posters. 70 8x10 B&W. 20 8x10 color and about another 20 smaller prints and just replaced the Vivid Magenta and Yellow. Most of the rest of the ink cartriges still have plenty of ink left. YAY!

After I ordered the printer Amazon started (daily, for a few days) offering me extra ink for the 3880 in my "gold box". As it turns out, Epson has two different K3 inks for Vivid Magenta and Light Magenta for the 3880 vs 3800 (all the other K3 inks are the same for both printers). Amazon offered me the wrong ones and since I didn't know that yet, I ordered them. They gave me a refund. T580A00 and T580B00 are the correct Magenta ones for the 3880. Even the Epson manual for the 3880 has it wrong in one of two places. I guess they just copied the 3800 manual and missed a few things. Amazon said they fixed it in their catalog, I haven't heard back from Epson yet. So be careful ordering extra ink.

A few things have gone wrong. I've had a few paper misfeeds, more than one sheet fed at a time. Thsi happened on my R1900 some times too mainly with Ultra Premium Matte. So watch for that. I've also had a driver problem. When I started printing the 17x22 posters, 10 at a time, 3 different posters. It seems that the driver got confused and half way through printing the first 10, it started using the settings from the second 10. I canceled all the jobs and did one poster at a time (e.g. 10 at a time) and everything was fine.

Another small problem. I have lots of 13x19 paper left over from the R1900. The 13x19 is not a native size for the 3880, so I had to make a "custom size". I tried several things, but still haven't been able to print a 13x19 borderless.

I'm also having problems with some of the function of the remote monitor program. Some of those functions don't find the printer on the network.

But these problems are minor and I'm sure will be fixed in software someday. Don't let that stop you from getting this wonderful printer.

Oh yeah, don't panic when you install the maintenance cartridge at initial setup, as it immediately goes to 73% available. That is normal.

This is one of the best printers I have ever owned. Everyone who has seen the prints from them is convinced that they are professionally done. And I guess that is true, since this is from Epsons professional line.
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2009
Verified Purchase
I have been working with the Epson 3880 now for the last 2 weeks since it arrived. After much research I have eagerly awaited the release of Epson's newest printer. Set up with my PC was a snap - no brainer here. Before my first print, I calibrated my monitor with the Spyder system which I also highly recommend. I've printed with both Photoshop and Lightroom. From the very first print.....my colors have been right on the money. In fact, as good as any professional online service I've used. The images are simply astonishing.

I'm using currently Epson paper only, mostly their Velvet Fine Art paper. I have not yet found a need to run a calibration profile on Epson paper. The download paper profiles from Epson appear to be working well. Although I will probably do a test run to see if there is a significant difference. I'm looking forward to trying Red River Paper as well.

I've never done any high-end printing before. I always used on an online print service, but was frustrated with my lack of control over the process. Using a printer of this caliber can be a little overwhelming with Photoshop/Lightroom. It is critical to get your color management issues squared away before hand. It was very helpful to read: The Art of Printing Photos on Your Epson Printer - by Michael Freeman and John Beardsworth which was published earlier this year. This book was enlightening and it made my software/hardware choices much easier.

If you are tired of letting others have the final control over your very best images, are comfortable in PS or LR, utilize monitor calibration, can justify the expense, use higher end camera gear and enjoy the entire creative process that photography entails.....this is the printer you have been waiting for.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
Really, the only bad thing I have to say is that there's a major flaw in the print driver, and I've been in contact with tech support several times about it. The driver does not warn you when the ink cartridge will be automatically switched, which wastes about $5-10 each time if the switch isn't intended. And the driver doesn't save the paper type and black ink type from print to print, even with custom print settings. So you will inevitably have accidental ink swaps. They acknowledge it's a flaw, but refuse to do anything about it, even though the very same issue was addressed in two of their more expensive printers. There needs to be an option to disable auto switching or at least a dialog that pops up to confirm the switch. Really bad flaw on an otherwise wonderful printer. But it's one of those things that makes you feel like they just want to sell you more ink.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2010
This printer is so good straight out of the box it is hard to imagine how Epson could ever improve on the 3880.

As a professional photographer that worked in a state of the art darkroom for 30 plus years, with large and medium format negatives, I have always worked to the highest standards. The Epson 3880 now allows prints to be made that should meet the requirements of even the most discerning user.

Like others I moved from an Epson 2200. I would class that as a good printer (anyone want to buy one?) but it had limitations mentioned elsewhere. For the serious black and white printer the 3880 creates the most beautiful prints that could be neutral, cool or warm toned and created with ease. And colors are almost bang on to my color calibrated monitor (98%) and with the slightest bit of lightening to the Epson setting they match as closely as two different mediums could ever do.

It was just about perfect straight from the box. I expected to spend a hour or two setting up for the first time but the very first test print was stunning. Just like listening to music played on a pair of new and expensive stereo speakers, subtle nuances started to appear that I hadn't seen before. I made print after print each one showing some new improvement over the 2200. Then I went to 17" x 22" paper without any apparent loss of quality. On one print, in the sky, I noticed a tiny black dot. Had the printer done that? It could only have been a few pixals wide. I got out a strong magnifying glass and looked closely. It was a plane. I could see the wings and the tail as sharp as they could be, but to the naked eye it appeared only as a black dot. I mention that because it illustrates the detail the printer prints to.

One final word of caution. Be sure all the packing is removed. When you think you have it all out - look again and I'll bet you find another piece tucked away inside. I dread to think what would happen if it were switched on with some polystyrene inside...
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2011
At first I loved this printer. Great print quality, easy setup and flawless top paper loading. I use the printer for making 17" X 22" posters that then get laminated. Very happy with the print quality. But a few months after purchasing the printer, Epson discontinued the paper I was using. Had to go with a thicker paper and had problems. The thicker paper never lined up properly and the printed borders did not square with the paper edge. Tried adjusting the printer settings, nothing hepled. Epson support was of no help. Had to re-design many of my posters without borders.

Now the printer head is dragging across the paper creating ink lines. Many calls later and back from the repair shop, without getting any repairs. Told I need to use the rear manual feed to prevent the print head from hitting the paper. This has reduced the number of prints with ink marks, only tossing out 20% of prints compared to all. The rear manual feed is a nightmare! On average it takes 5 attempts for the printer to accept the paper. It has taken me up to 10 minutes to get the paper lined up properly, not a joke. Such a watse of time for a small business owner. For the few art prints I do, this was acceptable, but not for all my printing. They cannot replace the printer head. Any problems with the printer head, you need to buy a new printer!

Communication with Epson is poor. With many calls to them, I can say there was only one person with good knowledge of the printer. No authorized epson repair in the Philadelphia area. So if I want Epson to look at my printer I would have to ship it to New York.

At the start of 2011 Epson stopped using bubble wrap when shipping my paper supplies. Now they just use a small amount of poly bags inside the shipping box. The Espon paper inside the shipping box gets slammed back and forth and the corners are bent in most shipments. Contacted Epson and begged for bubble wrap saying I would pay extra if needed. They refused. What a shame.

So after 18 months of daily printing and adjusting to printer flaws and lack of customer service, I will be looking at other companies as I want to expand to a 24 inch wide printer. Part of my checklist will be asking about local repair, shipping of supplies and support. Because that is where Epson failed me.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
I am an amatuer photographer and this is my first high-end printer.

I run on Mac's and I installed the 3880 as a networked printer using it's ethernet connection. The installation was as smooth as can be.

When setting up the printer in OS 10.6.3, you get two versions of the 3880. One is Bonjour and the other is TCP/IP. Selecting TCP/IP is important for all of the printer utilities to work.

Make certain your monitor is color calibrated and the software you will use to edit and print has the same color space or you will get color casts on the prints.

After that it is a total breeze to create truely awesome prints. I took some of them and compared them to portraits done by commercial photo shops. The 3880 prints were hands down better with much better definition and saturation. 100% first rate.

I love this thing...

UPDATE:

I had to get a new driver when I went to OS 10.7, Lion.

The new driver loaded smoothly and the printer prints fine.

BUT, they changed the names for the paper types from easy to understand like "Letter - Borderless" to "Letter.L4SideMgnAE", which is the paper style you need for a borderless, letter sized print! Isn't that so obvious??

Or "22"X17" changed to "US-C". Clear as mud.

I contacted their tech support and they couldn't explain why they made this change but they did point me to a web-site that acts as a rosetta stone so you can semi-decipher their new gibberish.

I still had to figure out which name to select to get borderless printing as the web-site doesn't make that clear at all.

Why they would do this simply defines logic or explanation.
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