HP 8750 - A Printer for Fine-Art Black and White AND Color.
HP's new 8750 printer offers archival color and black and white. A three-tone black system yields beautiful gradations and neutral grayscale across the tonal range.
We posted the press release for this printer back when we first received it, but I wanted to give it a little more play on the news page, as it looks to me to be a pretty significant new product. (See the press release for detailed specs.)
It seems that every year brings a new round of inkjet printers sporting yet one more ink color. (Four color printers, six color printers, 8 color printers, etc, etc.) This time around though, the extra "color" is another black... or two. HP's new 8750 printer uses a total of nine inks, the usual cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus light cyan and light magenta; a blue ink for expanded gamut in blue shades, and no less than three black inks, a full black as well as medium and light grays.
The color complement isn't all that different than those of many other printers on the market (although blue is a bit unusual as a gamut-expansion color), but the three shades of black/grey really set it apart. We've seen third-party quadtone inksets for fine-art black and white printing, and at least one other manufacturer has produced a printer with a "light black," but this is the first time a major player has come out with a printer with this strong a focus on fine-art black and white printing.
The problem with printing black and white photos on conventional inkjets is that their use of colors to build up the shades of grey generally results in greys that aren't perfecctly neutral color-wise, and (worse), that change in hue as you move across the tonal range.
The new HP 8750 solves this problem by using three shades of grey to get very smooth gradations in black and white prints, while maintaining essentially perfect color neutrality across its full tonal range.
The new printer not only produces great-looking prints, but boasts exceptional print life: 100 years in a frame, under normal residential lighting, or 200 years in archival storage conditions, as projected by Wilhelm Research. (HP booth personnel told me that the print life is slightly longer for black and white prints than color ones, but that "it's only a matter of a few years," so they're just using the 100/200 year figures for both.)
The HP 8750 is a very interesting new entry at the high end of the desktop inkjet market, the strongest offering to date from a major manufacturer for fine-art black and white printing, while at the same time ceding nothing on the color front.
The new HP 8750 is scheduled to appear in the US in April 2005, at an estimated street price of $499.