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Author Topic: HPZ, Epson 4800/7800, Canon IPF shootout  (Read 26252 times)
thunter
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« on: December 16, 2006, 06:21:46 AM »
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HP Z2100 vs Epson 4800 vs Canon Ipf 5000 shootout...

I've recently witnessed a 'shootout' of the above machines as set up by a local Melbourne distributor of the three brands... both to bring the salefolk up to speed and to engender interest in the soon to arrive HP Z series.
I'm in the market for a new Archival med. format printer. I'm very fussy about what I want and I'm wanting much in a machine.
I'm wanting a machine that will serve for many years and IMHO I think that the current market has not quite reached its zenith in value for money (like I think maybe the SLR Digital Camera market has done for example).

I'm debating which of the three machines would suit my business extention (currently I'm a conservation picture framer and oil artist) into professional-grade printing with wedding photographers in mind and other photographic and digital artists.

Below were my criteria I've been working with while researching these past 12 months... and with each new machine release one hopes more of the 'wish list' functions would be met.

My Criteria... roughly in order of preference

1. 17" or 24" archival grade inkjet.
2. Extremely fine detail with very wide colour gamut
3. Economical ink usage
4. Adequate range of Wilhelm tested photo and fine art papers available
5. Good backup service
6. Good speed and reasonably quiet
7. Can manage rolls, cassette loaded paper and matboard thick media (i.e. 1.5mm)
8. Reasonable user interface with clear colour-management instructions (if there is such a thing as I'm pretty new to this labyrinth...)
9. Size... which has only become an issue when I actually saw how much of my workshop would be dedicated to the machine after seeing the Canon!

Anyway... my somewhat naive but critical responses to the results of the shootout at the distributors...

HP Z2100
 (the 3100 with the gloss optimizer was not available though some prints from HP were available... but these don't really show a great range of gamut or detail, so I like to put my own images through the machines so I can compare apples with apples). I was able to do this with the HP 2100, the Epson 7800, and the Canon IPF 5000.

Positives vs negatives.
+ built in spectro... enabled almost perfect matches from paper to paper with the same images! ... due of course to the built in spectro. This is HP's most outstanding feature and if you plan to use a wide variety of papers, this feature is a must. No more building or buying paper profiles!!
+ very good gamut & excellent detail
+ archival inks and fair range of OEM papers
+ good user interface and manual
+ good backup service (at least in Melb. Australia)
+ appears to be economical with 130ml cartridges but you have to replace print heads x 4 every 3 lots of cartridges ($95AU per head;)
+ reasonably compact for its 24" output
+ water resistant inks though they scuff easily (less so with the gloss optimized samples)
+ excellent gray scale

- built in spectro... if you use a limited range of papers, the cost is high for the machine (approx. $6800 AU inc. tax for the 24" Z2100... excl. stand & media bin = extra $522 inc. tax, compared with Ep. 7800 24" around $5000AU, and Canon 17"around $3000 AU)
- no cassettes as each single sheet must be manually fed from the rear. So the machine needs an operator there full time if you are printing on anything but rolls!
- maximum paper thickness is only 0.8mm.

Epson 4800/7800
+ good colour gamut with excellent detail.
+ excellent range of OEM & 3rd party papers with numerous 3rd party profiles available.
+ good archival grade inks
+ good after sales service
+ good user interface
+ if you use the machine constantly to prevent head clogging, it is very reliable & economical with large cartridges... if you don't change blacks!
+ 4800 (but not 7800 which apart from roll feed is a single sheet feed... and quite awkward at that), has multi sheet cassette type tray for doing unattended multiple images
+ excellent gray scale
+ does not scuff as easily as HP but appears water resistant
+ good size footprint
+ takes 1.5mm thick media

- the black ink cartridge changing = absolute waste of time and ink/money issue
- head clogging a high likelihood if machine is not running hot daily = absolute waste of time and ink/money issue (still waiting to hear about the Ep 3800 regarding this)
- need to buy specialist profiles for each paper to get best from machine (or spend on spectro & add more time and yet another steep learning curve)


Canon IPF 5000
+ excellent colour & detail
+ archival inks (still under test by Wilhelm)
+ fair range of papers (still under test by Wilhelm)
+ appears to be very economical with no head clogging issues
+ scuffing appears less than HP but inks are not water resistant
+ cassette feed + single feet tray feed + roll feed = plenty of options
+ takes 1.5mm thick media

- pathetic user interface and manual will no doubt frustrate and confuse new users (like me!)... as if colour management isn't enough of an issue even for the experienced! This is my main issue with this machine... the amount of unnecessary learning & tweeking involved.
- Canon backup appears to be somewhat lacking from reports from two distributors here in Aus.
- no 24" option offered
- inks are not water resistant (though this would not be a problem with works being framed, and you can spray on a sealer if they stay exposed)
- takes up far too much room for the size of the print it produces... though I suppose this is partly offset by the fact it needs space behind for the very thick media capacity straight through paper path
- need to buy specialist profiles for each paper to get best from machine (or spend on spectro & add more time and yet another steep learning curve)

General Conclusions
Each machine produced excellent detail and continuous tone. They each had excellent colour but the Canon with the 12 colour inkset produced wider range... particularly of blues/mauves.
Each machine offers good OEM paper selection, though Epson has more... though one rep. spoke of the annoyance expressed of late by some long term Epson users finding unacceptable variations in the Epson papers which may be due to slight alterations in paper formulations to comply with the new ink sets with the latest machines.
They each had adequate speed and quietness of operation for my purposes.
None of the machines at max. resolution showed any better detail than my Ep. 1290, which is not to say they are poor, but that technology enabling detail is no longer an issue with machines over the past 3-4 years. They're all outstanding.
All these pigment ink machines show some gloss differential on gloss papers which can only probably be really eliminated by use of a gloss enhancer which the machine sprays on (eg like the HPZ 3100 series) or do it yourself after.

I'd already discounted in my mind the 4800/7800 mainly because of the head clogging issue which so many seem to have had problems with (as I have with my 1290) and ink cartridge swaping issue... which I'd need to be doing regularly. The Epson 3800 is not yet available here for trial and while I'm currently still open to it, I'm disappointed with the lack of roll feeder, and the smaller cartridge capacity... and from forum users - it does not appear to be very economical. But I've had no samples from it to compare with my many samples from the other machines.
So where am I at in choosing a machine? Closer than 6 months ago but not convinced this is quite the right time to jump in yet.
Do I need to have a built in spectro? Just how many papers am I going to offer customers? How much money do I want sitting there in stock? How many archivally-untested papers do I want to promote or offer? How much time do I want to put in to unravelling Canon's messy directions and foibles? And why hasn't Canon forecast a 24" model? It's unlike them to leave out any segment of a market... if cameras are anything to go by.

Still ruminating... but I hope this has been helpful to someone. There are many on this forum who have been very helpful to me.
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NikosR
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2006, 02:44:59 AM »
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I can't see why HP's use of a spectro to calibrate itself will render obsolete the need of ICC profiles. In fact, I can see just the opposite. ICC profiles needing to be recreated every time the printer re-calibrates itself.

Maybe I'm missing something? Info is really scarce at this point in time on the exact use and operation of the built in spectro function.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2006, 12:04:59 PM by NikosR » Logged

Nikos
Peter McLennan
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2006, 10:03:57 AM »
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NikosR, to you really need to quote the entire passage to add your comment?  Pity the poor dial-up users.  PLEASE trim your quoted passages.

Peter
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2006, 11:22:48 AM »
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What Peter said. And a built-in spectro will make the printer's print behavior consistent across multiple paper types. The whole point of a spectrophotometer is to calibrate to consistent standard; if that did not happen the spectro would be broken.
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NikosR
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2006, 12:06:56 PM »
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What Peter said. And a built-in spectro will make the printer's print behavior consistent across multiple paper types. The whole point of a spectrophotometer is to calibrate to consistent standard; if that did not happen the spectro would be broken.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=90986\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

First, sorry for the long quote, I didn't mean to quote anything in the first place, just pressed the wrong button.

Secondly, I still can't see why the calibration would mean ICC profiles would not be required as per the OP's comments.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2006, 07:06:37 PM »
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First, sorry for the long quote, I didn't mean to quote anything in the first place, just pressed the wrong button.

Secondly, I still can't see why the calibration would mean ICC profiles would not be required as per the OP's comments.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=90992\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My understanding was that the HP was able both to self-calibrate, but also to generate an ICC profile for the paper.

One open question was whether this really makes sense or not, since the ICC profile is generated just after the print, meaning before inks actually dry and settle to their final color.

One would expect a good match between screen and print when looking at the print just after it comes out of the printer, with some gap arising when looking at the print a few days later. I guess that the importance of the gap would depend on the type of paper used.

Someone had mentioned that it was possible to trick the beta HP Z3100 in waiting 24 hours before building the ICC profile. I wonder if this has become a feature on the final production Z3100?

Cheers,
Bernard
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2006, 02:17:04 PM »
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To answer a couple of points:

The HP Z series uses the built-in spectrophotometer to build icc profiles through an automated process.  You can, essentially, create an icc profile for any substrate loaded into the printer with one mouse click.  Thus, if you're really fussy and want to do a new profile if the humidity changes or the inks get a little older, it's just a matter of selecting the option and letting the printer do its work.  Obviously, this is convenient if you use lots of different media, not to mention that the process is entirely automated.  The printer just reads the patches it prints out and does all the work for you.  The only thing is that it prints out about 500 patches, so I don't know how the profiles compare to profiles made with considerably more patches.  (Perhaps they compare just fine.  I just don't know.)

In regard to the ink drying and changing characteristics, the automated profile creating software allows a second option which lets you print out the profile patches in one session, remove the substrate from the printer, and then complete the process sometime later, whenever you want (obviously, when you're convinced the ink has dried and undergone any changes its going to go through).  All you have to do is put the substrate with the patches back in the printer and complete the process.

Mike
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2006, 02:23:52 PM »
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P.S. - Also, though the spectrophotometer is used for both calibration and profile creation, it can also be used for either one or the other.  So, you can calibrate each time you profile, or do more calibrations than profiles, or vice versa.

Mike
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2006, 04:22:17 PM »
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Thanks for the clarification Mike.

Best regards,
Bernard
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K.C.
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2006, 12:26:00 AM »
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In regard to the ink drying and changing characteristics, the automated profile creating software allows a second option which lets you print out the profile patches in one session, remove the substrate from the printer, and then complete the process sometime later…[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91446\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wouldn't you think that the profiling takes into consideration that there will be dry down ?

I just can't imagine the HP engineers who came up with this not allowing for the patches being 'just printed' when read. And then adding the second method for the ultimate tweeking if needed.

I could of course be wrong because I also can't image Epson thinking that they should release the 3800 without solving the head clogging issues.
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2006, 02:31:15 AM »
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Wouldn't you think that the profiling takes into consideration that there will be dry down ?

I just can't imagine the HP engineers who came up with this not allowing for the patches being 'just printed' when read. And then adding the second method for the ultimate tweeking if needed.

I could of course be wrong because I also can't image Epson thinking that they should release the 3800 without solving the head clogging issues.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91527\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yes, you're correct, the first of the two options, the one-step profile creation, takes about a half-hour total and does allow for drying of the inks.  I don't know if this time frame would allow for the colors to become stable in every possible ink/substrate combination.  At any rate, the HP engineers have added the second option as well, which, I suppose, is a good option to have should it prove necessary.  Perhaps an 'ultimate tweaking' option as you said.

Mike
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2006, 03:22:06 PM »
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Just thought of another reason for printing out the patches and then creating a profile at a later time... to get a profile that takes the effect of a liquid laminate into account.  I know the printer has a gloss cart, but this wouldn't stop me from wanting the UV-blocking qualities of a good liquid laminate for stuff like canvases, which would be my primary use for the printer.  Of course, you can be much more accurate if you profile after applying the same liquid laminate you plan to use on your prints.

Mike
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2006, 03:25:31 PM »
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P.S. (again) - I believe that the time allowed for drying during the automated profiling process is 5 minutes, which HP considers sufficient for most quick-drying media.  For those instances where 5 minutes isn't sufficient, even if rare, I'm sure the two-stage profiling will come in handy (and keep people from complaining later on that they can't do accurate profiles for certain media due to this reason).

Mike
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2006, 05:52:19 PM »
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I just can't imagine the HP engineers who came up with this not allowing for the patches being 'just printed' when read. And then adding the second method for the ultimate tweeking if needed.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91527\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There is just no way that HP engineers could predict how the drying of inks can affect final colors on papers that have not been tested.

I know that prints made with my Epson 4000 don't look the same 5 minutes after having been printed, and 10 hours later. Contrast gets better as blacks get a bit darker. Since the appearance of blacks and the fine control of its density is key when printing on Matte stocks, the ability of the HP to create profiles at a later stage is IMHO a central part of the offering.

I would personnally not have considered buying it had this not been possible.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2006, 07:28:55 PM »
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There is just no way that HP engineers could predict how the drying of inks can affect final colors on papers that have not been tested.

I know that prints made with my Epson 4000 don't look the same 5 minutes after having been printed, and 10 hours later. Contrast gets better as blacks get a bit darker. Since the appearance of blacks and the fine control of its density is key when printing on Matte stocks, the ability of the HP to create profiles at a later stage is IMHO a central part of the offering.

I would personnally not have considered buying it had this not been possible.

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91682\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Bernard, I agree with you. The Ultrachrome inks (K3 or earlier) on matte paper anyhow, I find require over-night to look right. When the prints first come out of the printer (in my case the 4800) they have a slightly muddy glazed-over look (which I believe is reflectance from ink that is not fully dried yet) and one's first instinct is to throw the print in the trash basket - but the next morning it looks super. So they don't get trashed unless they still look muddy the next day!

This is an interesting thread. I'm looking to replace my 4800 and so far the only thing that answers all the issues is the HP z3100, which is expensive and very large. It is reasonable to expect that HP will be producing a Z model in 17 or 18 inches, but there are not even any rumours out there about its specs or timing. The Canon IP% 5000 makes lovely prints but is absolutely not user-friendly; I was generally disappointed with the build quality of the Epson 3800 - but the prints are fine. Ink cost per print will likely be considerably higher than on the 4000/4800 and it is no speed demon. I think HP has an overall lead in this horse race right now.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2006, 10:04:50 PM »
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So they don't get trashed unless they still look muddy the next day!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91849\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Same thing here Mark, few survive anyway, but none would if I were to judge just after printing.

Cheers,
Bernard
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ricgal
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« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2006, 01:46:09 PM »
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Great thread-  really useful,  
What worries me about the HP is the smaller 130mm carts and the head replacements-  how is it going to be to run price wise next to my epson 7500 with 220 mil carts (9500 carts with tabs hacked off).
The 7500 has no head clogging compared to my 4000 which is alwaysclogged-  where did Epson go wrong?
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neil snape
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« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2006, 02:15:26 PM »
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The twin pack of 130ml cartridges is priced the same as 1 Epson 220ml cartridge or thereabouts.
The heads are as permanent as Epson print heads thus will last a good time before nozzles start failing. When you do need to replace the head ( all are 2 color per head) you just plug in a new one. They are very reasonably priced compared to all others.
On dry times> the HP inks are stable to <0.5 dE in <5 minutes and stay put there after.
Drying time are known for all HP OEM media and assumed for others. If when profiling you prefer to read in the patches at a later time/date you simply check the radio button to do this. Not really a trick but a planned feature.

On patches. I think it is 463 patches on the built in profiler standard on all Z printers. Yet the option for a software / hardware Gretag/X-Rite Profile Maker upgrade is going to cost no more than a few ( I can't remember exact pricing) good custom profiles would. It has an excellent editor in it and can take the infamous Bill Atkinson TC 9.18 (918 patch) charts. A very worthwhile option of any photographer.

On calibration: profiles are always created after calibrating. Hence it's the calibration that brings the printer and media combo back in line for continuous use of already generated profiles. Only when media or other external influences are carrying changes would you have to re-profile. Normally the paper vendors should be meeting specification hence little change between rolls should occur.
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mike_botelho
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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2006, 03:31:57 PM »
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Great thread-  really useful, 
What worries me about the HP is the smaller 130mm carts and the head replacements-  how is it going to be to run price wise next to my epson 7500 with 220 mil carts (9500 carts with tabs hacked off).
The 7500 has no head clogging compared to my 4000 which is alwaysclogged-  where did Epson go wrong?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=92085\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I've seen a two-pack of the 130ml carts going for as little as $92.  That's, obviously, 260ml, and pretty comparable to the price of a 220ml K3 cart.  Also, if the HP is indeed more frugal with ink, and far less prone to clogging, that 260ml may go quite a lot farther than it would on an Epson.

I definitely have no affiliation with HP, and have never owned a HP printer (though a Z series printer is a prime contender for a future purchase), but I was worried about the ink cost as well (considering the high cost of the Vivera carts for the B9180).  Which is why I looked into this myself.

Mike

P.S. - I think I remember someone's comment about the print heads having to be changed somewhat frequently.  I've looked into this, and it's not true.  You may never have to replace a print head, but, if you do, it's fairly easy and inexpensive, particularly compared to an out-of-warranty print head replacement by Epson.
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EvoM
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« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2006, 08:58:06 PM »
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P.S. - I think I remember someone's comment about the print heads having to be changed somewhat frequently.  I've looked into this, and it's not true.  You may never have to replace a print head, but, if you do, it's fairly easy and inexpensive, particularly compared to an out-of-warranty print head replacement by Epson.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=92201\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi, I spoke to the same rep I believe the original poster is refering to and he told me the Z series HP print heads need to be replaced every 3 ink cartidges but didn't know if this was a recommendation by the software or it won't work until the head is replaced. Apparently HP (and Canon ipf series) use "thermal" print heads instead of the Epson piezo technology which means they are cheaper to make but wear out quickly!

I hope he is wrong on this but as he apparently has the only working Z3100 912 ink 44" machine here in Oz, he may know. Sure takes the gloss off if this is true as although cheap, there are 6 heads to replace!

He thinks that after testing they may find the Epson and HP have similar overall costs due to Epson's heavy ink use with self cleaning compared with HP's frugal ink use but head replacement costs.

Mike, can you please elaborate on your knowledge about this please?...I hope you are right!

Evo

Oh and by the way, the Z3100 12 ink machines really should be looked at as 11 inks as one is the "Gloss coating"! Does anyone know which ink colour the gloss is paired with?
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