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Epson announces Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 printers

October 23, 2008

Epson America today formally announced the Stylus Pro 7900 and Stylus Pro 9900 wide-format inkjet printers, which were originally announced outside the U.S. in May (click here for our original item on the printers).

The 7900 and 9900, which have maximum print widths of 24 inches and 44 inches, respectively, use Epson’s new 10-color UltraChrome HDR inkset, which adds two new ink colors—orange and green—designed to give the printers the widest possible gamut available in inkjet printing today. According to the company, the new inkset, in conjunction with improved screening algorithms, will produce “greatly enhanced photographic print quality with exceptionally fine photographic blends.”

Both units incorporate a 10-channel micropiezo printhead with an ink-repelling coating (also found in the Stylus Photo R1900 and R2880) designed to reduce clogs and improve ink efficiency. The 10-channel head also lets you switch on the fly between matte and photo black inks.

Another first for Epson is the inclusion of an optional spectrophotometer from X-Rite, the SpectroProofer, designed to provide a streamlined color-management process for prepress and proofing situations.

The Epson Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 will be available in November for $3,995 and $5,995 respectively. We hadn’t received pricing for the optional spectrophotometer at press time; we’ll pass that information along as we receive it.

Epson is billing the 7900 and 9900 printers as the ultimate inkjet printers for packaging, signage, and other commercial applications, as well as the top-of-the-line photographic printer on the market today. From the limited number of prints we’ve been able to see, we think that the company has once again taken a leap ahead of the competition in terms of print quality and performance. We’re hoping to get our hands on a unit to test: we’ll keep you posted.

Topics: News | Comments Off on Epson announces Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 printers

First look: HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer

September 22, 2008

At Photokina in Germany, HP today announced the Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer, a
wide-format inkjet printer for professional photographers and designers, with a new ink formulation, speed and paper-handling improvements and other enhancements over previous models.

The Z3200 is the successor to HP’s the Designjet Z3100 Photo Printer, which, when it first shipped late in 2006, was one of the most innovative photo printers we had seen in a long time. The Z3100 utilized 12 pigment-based inks (including a gloss optimizer) to produce high-quality, gallery-ready prints, but it was the printer’s embedded spectrophotometer (from X-Rite) and seamless integration with networked Macs and PCs that set it apart from competitors like Epson and Canon. HP spent considerable effort streamlining the process of printing: everything from unboxing the device to profiling and adding new paper types had been thought through by HP’s hardware and software engineers. The result was a printer that created top-quality prints and was a joy to use, day in and day out.

We’ve had a production version of the 24" PostScript model, the Z3200ps, for about three weeks, and have tested it fairly thoroughly with a variety of papers and applications. Overall, we’re very impressed with the printer’s performance: HP is obviously determined to keep the pressure on Epson—the market leader—in the pro photo space. As was the case with the Z3100, we think that the Z3200 should be looked at by anyone seriously evaluating a wide-format device to create salable prints.

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Topics: First looks, News | 18 Comments »

The Printerville review: Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880

September 14, 2008

Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880, an $800 large-format (13") printer, enters a vastly different printer market than that of its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400. When the R2400 debuted in 2005, Epson owned all aspects of the archival photo printer market, and the R2400’s only real competition was the model it replaced, the Stylus Photo 2200. The R2880, however, joins a market crowded by competitors from HP and Canon, as well as Epson itself: there are now five large-format, pigment-based photo printers priced between $500 and $1,000, and Epson’s competitors have done a superb job of catching up to their longtime rival’s print quality. There are many observers who believe that Epson still has the edge in quality, but there’s no disputing that HP and Canon have put themselves into the game, HP with the Photosmart Pro B8850 (and its older sibling, the B9180) and Canon with the Pixma Pro9500. How does the R2880 match up? Read on.

Stylus Photo R2880 specifications
Type B-size pigment-based inkjet
Price $800
Inks 9 UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta (8 printing)
Ink colors Photo Black, Matte Black, Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Vivid Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black
Ink cartridge cost $13.29 (replacement cost: $119.61 for all 9 inks)
Ink cost per ml (est.) $1.16
Maximum resolution 5760 by 1440 dpi
Minimum paper size 4" by 6"
Maximum paper size 13" by 44"
Thick paper support Yes
Straight path Yes, for media up to 1.3mm thick
Interfaces USB 2.0 (2); Pictbridge
Operating systems supported Windows XP, Vista; Mac OS X (10.3.9 and up)
Weight 26.9 lbs.
Dimensions 24.3" x 12.7" x 8.4"
Other features Roll support; CD printing tray; dual USB interfaces allow two computers to be connected to printer simultaneously

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Topics: Reviews | 78 Comments »

Epson announces Artisan photo all-in-ones

August 27, 2008

Epson Artisan 700 all-in-one Epson has announced two new all-in-one photo inkjet printers, the Artisan 700 (Amazon link) and Artisan 800 (Amazon), that offer print, scan and copy functionality and built-in wireless and Ethernet connectivity.

The new printers, which are priced at $300 (Artisan 800) and $200 (700), are six-color inkjets (with individual ink tanks) using Epson’s Claria dye-based inks. Other features include:

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Topics: News | 4 Comments »

Canon cost per print data from Red River

August 4, 2008

We recently noted Red River Paper’s ink cartridge testing for the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Photo R1900 printers. These tests attempt to come up with a real-world cost-per-page metric for inkjet cartridges—which is one of the hottest topics in the world of photo printing—and they’re great data points to have when you’re evaluating printers.

Over the weekend, Red River’s Drew Hendrix posted their latest results, covering Canon’s Pixma Pro9500 and Pixma Pro9000 inkjets. Their results show that the dye-based Canon Pixma Pro9000 offers roughly the same cost per print as the pigment-based R1900, while the Pixma Pro9500 has a slightly better cost per print than Epson’s R2400. (The Stylus Photo R2880, which was introduced in June, is probably much closer to the 9500 in cost per print, based on our tests, which use the same test image and similar methodology to Red River’s.)

We’re currently testing the HP B8850 with some slightly different methodology, but one that we hope will give us slightly more accurate results. Stay tuned—we think this is pretty important stuff.

Topics: testing | 1 Comment »

Red River ink life testing

June 11, 2008

Following up on our recent post concerning ink cartridge life, Red River Paper, one of our favorite paper companies, has posted some similar test results regarding Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900 and Stylus Photo R2400 printers. They used the same test image and similar measurement techniques to come up with a cost per print for images printed at 4" by 6", 5" by 7", 8" by 10", 11" by 14" and 13" by 19". They also work a bit deeper on trying to define a metric for something they call “Cartridge Equivalent Usage,” or CEU.

This report addresses concerns and arguments about the true cost of ink in desktop photo printing. Using the Epson R2400 and Epson R1900, we conducted a series of print tests to determine how much ink is used in a full coverage 8”x10” print. From that figure we extrapolated ink usage per square inch. The objective is to share a realistic cost per print vision with inkjet users. The choice to pursue photo inkjet printing is in the end an individual economic choice.

We think this is pretty important stuff, and it’s good to see others working on similar tests — the data regarding the R1900 is especially welcome, and it looks like Red River’s results on the R2400 are very similar to ours, which speaks well to this style of test’s repeatability. If you’re interested in this topic, it’s worth going through the report.

Based on some of the comments we’ve received, we think there are a few tweaks we can make to get the test methodology a bit more secure, and be extended to HP and Canon printers. Stay tuned.

Topics: testing | 1 Comment »

Measuring ink cartridge life in the real world

June 4, 2008

One of the things that caused some chatter on the Web in our first look last week at Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880 was the following statement:

“in our initial testing, we were able to print nearly twice as many photos using the same amount of ink on R2880 as we were able to do with the R2400.”

Our results — which were based on observations from our second round of installed ink cartridges — weren’t done with any specific methodology in place. It was based on our general performance testing, alongside standard print quality test prints that we generally use. Since then, our initial findings haven’t held up, and while we stand by what we saw in that specific round of printing, it was obvious that we needed to look at this issue a bit deeper.

In the past week, we have spent a fair amount time trying to come up with some type of test methodology to give a realistic sense of ink usage on the new printer. This week we ran some initial tests, and we’ve gotten some interesting data, but this is an issue bigger than the R2880. We wanted to share our results as a starting data point for a wider discussion of ink yield in photo printers.
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Topics: testing | 17 Comments »

Stylus Photo R2880 review: speed tests

May 29, 2008

We’re continuing to work on our full review of Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880, which we hope to have online in the next week or so. In the interim, we have been able to finish our benchmarking of the new inkjet, comparing it with its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400, and the two semi-pro printers closest to the R2880 in fighting weight: HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 and Canon’s Pixma Pro9500.

We know that speed is usually a secondary or even a tertiary consideration when looking at photo printers, but, with today’s increased competition, it can be a factor for some people when they’re choosing an inkjet. Below are two charts, noting the print speeds for six different print sizes, ranging from 4" by 6" to 12" by 18" on the R2880 and the other three printers.

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Topics: Reviews | Comments Off on Stylus Photo R2880 review: speed tests

New Epson wide-format printers announced

May 29, 2008

At the Drupa trade show in Germany this week, Epson announced two new wide-format printers, the Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900. The new printers, which have a maximum print width of 24" and 44",respectively, incorporate a new pigment-based ink set, called UltraChrome HDR. The HDR inks include photo and matte black inks, light black, light light black, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, orange and green, and use an 11-channel head that switches automatically between photo and matte black.

Ink cartridge size (a hot topic these days) is quite large — 350ml and 750ml — and Epson claims that the 7900 and 9900 offer significant speed improvements over the existing Epson wide format devices.

Also notable in the new printers is an optional built-in spectrophotometer from X-Rite, called the Epson SpectroProofer, which provides “automatic color measurement data to the printer, allowing user profiling and linearization, enabling professional color management while at the same time reducing labor costs.”

The Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 are expected to ship this spring in Europe and Australia, although pricing was not announced. Epson America representatives stressed that this announcement was made by Epson Europe, although we would assume that ultimately the new printers and inks would reach the U.S. and Canada at some point not long after they ship elsewhere.

[Source: Print21, an online publication produced by the Australian trade association, Printing Industries.]

Topics: News | 5 Comments »

First look: Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880

May 26, 2008

Epson Stylus Photo R2880Epson today announced the Stylus Photo R2880, the long-awaited replacement to the Stylus Photo R2400. The $800 printer, slated to ship in June, is a B-size (13") inkjet that uses pigment-based inks, including two light-density black inks designed to produce optimal black-and-white prints on all types of media. And, while the R2880’s pedigree shows a clear link to the R2400, the new model takes advantage of Epson’s recent technology advancements from both the higher-end Stylus Professional printer line and the recently released Stylus Photo R1900.

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Topics: First looks, Reviews | 22 Comments »

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