my Epson 1290 needed repair so I took it in to the repair centre this morning. on my way out, I noticed a display section and asked one of the attending people if Epson was going to release the 3800 in Hong Kong. I was surprised to hear that 'yes', they're going to release it in Hong Kong except that the model number will be 3850 to distinguish the grey-market items, and it'll arrive around the end of December.
yippee!! at last, a decent printer for my needs.
so it looks like I'll be getting the Epson 3800/3850 instead of the HP B9180. with the 3800, I'll get printing on par or better than the B9180, and it'll have local suport/warranty so it's an easy decision.
Eric's reply also made it a little easier ;-) I don't plan on being chained to one paper supplier.