Print On, Rock OnBy MIKE PASINI
The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter
SAN FRANCISCO -- Our coverage of Macworld Expo concludes with a look at some intriguing new printers (and a few other tidbits).
The Photosmart 8750 is HP's 13x19 photo printer, competing directly with Epson's new R2400 and Canon's popular i9900. Like the R2400, the 8750 uses three black inks to print black and white images, but like the i9900 it uses dyes rather than pigments. At $499.99, it's the same price as the i9900, both a bit less expensive than the R2400 (although HP is running an Instant Savings program of $50 off until the end of the month).
Unlike either of its competitors, it uses ink cartridges that bundle several colors of its Vivera inks together. HP told us the bundles were matched to run out together (the tri-color cartridge and the black and white cartridge lead fairly independent lives).
The printer features Ethernet and USB 2.0 connections. But it also supports PictBridge and includes four memory card slots for CompactFlash Type I and II, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard, USB Flash drive and xD-Picture Cards. Jetdirect wireless and Bluetooth adapters are optional.
As our photo shows, it printed a gorgeous photo from right outside the Expo, courtesy of a passing photographer. And the black and white print was likewise very rich.
|The Photosmart 8750
|Black & White
Three black inks
We were also happy to see HP's all-in-one printers were on display. It gave us a chance to ask about the print-only driver updates. In the past few months, HP told us, they've updated their all-in-one driver (which can print and scan) for compatibility with Tiger. And, while their goal is to be only 30 days behind the release of an Intel Mac with a Universal Binary release of the driver, they were caught a bit off guard. But they expect to release one sometime in February.
The PSC 1610 is one of the more affordable models at $129.99, offering six-ink color in two cartridges for very nice photo printing while providing a workhorse of a color printer (23 pages a minute) and a crack copying machine, too. You don't have to turn the computer on to copy anything, either. The 1200x4800 optical resolution is more than adequate for faxing (using your computer's fax/modem capability), which saves the cost of putting fax technology in the all-in-one. And the 48-bit color makes scanning photos feasible as well. It's PictBridge compatible but also includes a memory card reader for CompactFlash Type I and II, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard/Secure MultiMediaCard, SmartMedia and xD-Picture Cards.
We've used two HP all-in-ones recently and been surprised at just how capable they are. There isn't much compromise built into them. And unlike a dedicated photo printer whose print head can clog for infrequent use, they get regular use.
With two burners shown
At the same table in the large HP booth, we noticed some attractive CDs. Turns out they were all labeled with HP's LightScribe technology (http://www.lightscribe.com). A monochrome laser etch chemically changes the composition of the top layer of a special CD to create the image. Look, Mom, no ink. You need a special burner but all you have to do is burn your date, flip your disc and burn your label. It takes three to five minutes to etch a simple design or half an hour to etch a photograph.
Media Version 1.2 will introduce colored backgrounds (like those shown in our photo) and higher contrast. The burns will also be about 30 percent faster, HP told us.
Canon's Robynne Lee introduced us to the PIXMA MP150, its brand new $89.99 all-in-one. Like the HP 1610, it can print, copy and scan and offers PictBridge direct printing and a USB 2.0 interface. With an output resolution of 4800x1200 (1200x4800 for scanning), it prints in four colors from two cartridges using a minimum two picoliter droplets and scans 48-bit color.
|The PIXMA MP150
Robynne couldn't confirm the rumors that Canon will introduce a new 13x19 printer at PMA next month. But she did confirm that the current i9900 has done very well. It seems to have inspired some attention to more attractive design not only by Canon but by its competitors as well.
Epson's Stylus Photo R2400 is just one example of that, wrapping its 5760x1440 optimized dpi, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and FireWire connections in an attractive modern shell. But the real story behind this 13x19 replacement for the venerable 2200P is the new 8-color UltraChrome K3 pigment set.
|The Stylus Photo R2400
"With its expanded ink set," Epson explains, "this printer ensures a wider color gamut and superior midtones, highlights, neutrals and shadow details making it ideal for professional quality prints. With its Black, Light Black and Light-Light Black inks, anyone can easily achieve amazing black and white prints. And, since the inks are pigment-based, they deliver fade-resistant works of art that stay brilliant for up to 108 years in color and over 200 years in black and white."
We heard some very good things about the results you can achieve with the UltraChrome inks and a good ICC profile.
|A Segway Segue
Let's Segue from printers into a Printroom.com (http://www.printroom.com) note. The company, which provides online storefronts and digital lab services for photographers, released Pro Studio Manager 2.6 during the show. New features of the asset manager available at no charge to Printroom.com customers include:
- Batch renaming
- Image comparisons
- Ranking using ratings and colors
- IPTC metadata editing
- Frame and preview modes
- Toolbar customization
Over 7,000 professional photographers use Printroom.com, the company said. Pro Studio Manager is available for both the Macintosh and Windows.
Lowel lighting equipment (http://www.lowel.com) demonstrated its $125 Ego, a tabletop fluorescent softlight. Illumination is provided by two custom 27W screw-in compact daylight fluorescent lamps with a high Color Rendering Index "for much more natural and realistic color balance than standard fluorescent lamps," the company said. Also included is a hinge-folded white bounce card for easily reflected fill.
|The Lowel Ego
Saves energy, too