Four Top-Notch Inkjet Printers1 May, 2003 By: Michael Lennox
The large-format printer market resembles the consumer inkjet printer marketthere are multiple players, and their names are all familiar: Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Roland. This year, Cadalyst Labs reviews Canons imagePROGRAF W7250, EPSONs Stylus Pro 10600, HPs DesignJet 1055CM Plus, and Rolands CAMMJET CJ-500.
These printers share some common features. All handle a variety of media types-adhesive vinyl, banner material, canvas, glossy photo paper, and plain bond (the type of media you use greatly affects the quality of your print). They all support roll feed and sheet stock.
HOW WE TESTED
The printed line drawings were all comparable-crisp lines and solid fills. All the printers produced the line drawing in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, with the HP 1055CM edging out the EPSON Stylus Pro 10600 by a few seconds for the fastest time. The times for the photographic image varied considerably. Because each printer handles the processing differently, the highest quality settings tend to vary, and, within reason, most users will sacrifice speed for quality. This is an area where the manufacturer's stated speeds provide the best basis for comparison. With the notable exception of Roland's CAMMJET, which comes with a standard processor, all of the printers reviewed could benefit in speed, control, and possibly quality through the addition of a RIP (raster image processor). The true test is in the quality of the printed image, and here the results clearly favor the printers with support for six inks, namely the Epson, Roland, and Canon.
The move beyond CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) as the foundation for color printing has a profound impact on print quality. The EPSON, Canon, and Roland all support CMYK plus two additional inks: light cyan and light magenta. These additional inks help the reproduction of a variety of flesh tones and improve the quality of midtones and highlights in an image. You can outfit the Roland CAMMJET with green and orange inks instead, enabling the creation of a wide range of colors.
You can't go wrong with any of these printers. It comes down to what you need to accomplish and your budget. If you're looking for a plotter to mainly handle line drawings and the occasional rendering, and you want to share with a workgroup, the HP 1055CM is a good choice.
If you're looking for the best of both worlds-the ability to create line drawings and also print rich, photographic images-the EPSON Stylus Pro 10600 accommodates media as wide as 440 and multiple ink types. If you need only 240 support with an emphasis on ease of use, look at the Canon imagePROGRAF W7250. If you want to jump up to the next level and into sign-making, or if you need to combine printing and plotting in one unit, check out the Roland.
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