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Author Topic: The State of Reviews  (Read 8876 times)
jpgentry
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« on: February 17, 2008, 12:40:53 AM »
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I just wish the reviews had more factual, usable info these days.  I'll leave it at that...
« Last Edit: February 17, 2008, 01:47:04 AM by jpgentry » Logged
RogerW
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2008, 06:12:06 AM »
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"the reviews "

which?
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2008, 07:56:27 AM »
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MR doesn't do "reviews" in the sense you're looking for.  His articles are about his impressions and experience.  He's said a number of time that if it's reviews you want with all the gory technical details, there are other sites out there that fill that need.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2008, 09:22:10 AM »
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I just wish the reviews had more factual, usable info these days.  I'll leave it at that...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not quite sure what you mean.
If you mean reviews of cameras with pixel-peeping technical details, try DPreview. On the other hand, I greatly value Michael's attention to practical issues that don't show up in those other technically obsessed reviews. Like, is the viewfinder a piece of crap, or can you actually see anything through it in dim light? Or are the menus and controls so obtuse that you can never access those spiffy features the other sites drool over? And can you actually use the camera while wearing gloves? I also live in a snowy location, so this is really important to me.
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2008, 12:39:39 PM »
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I think JpGentry is referring to the iPF6100 review, which doesn't come across as very factual to those of us who own an iPF printer.  For individual critiques of the review and alternate opinions, see this Wiki thread:

http://canonipf.wikispaces.com/message/view/FAQ/2747670

--John
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John Camp
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2008, 01:14:36 PM »
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I think JpGentry is referring to the iPF6100 review, which doesn't come across as very factual to those of us who own an iPF printer.  For individual critiques of the review and alternate opinions, see this Wiki thread:

http://canonipf.wikispaces.com/message/view/FAQ/2747670

--John
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John,

I just read through the replies on the Wiki, and to tell the truth, most sound like they come from Canon fans who'd like an unequivocal endorsement of their machines. I thought MR did a decent job of pointing out the various strengths and weaknesses based on experience, rather than on gamut arguments; and the basic conclusion, that most people couldn't reliably pick out which printer made which print, based on IQ, is hardly biased against Canon.

I had to deal with all of this early in the winter when I needed a new printer, and after some research, went with the Epson 3800. The HP cost quite a bit more, and the Canon (as far as I knew at that point) still had documentation problems -- and I also made my decision based on some comments that you'd made about the difficulty of setting up and using a Canon, which I think was the reason that the Wiki was established, was it not? But the thing that made me most nervous was that there doesn't seem to be any good documentation on the archival quality of the inks. Why is that? I think Wilhelm tested them, but I can't find the results.

Anyway, I think if you read MR's conclusion closely, there is a factual nugget: that experienced printers (and others) asked to judge the final product, can't reliably assign prints to a given printer based on IQ. Of course, MR does mostly landscape and travel, and somebody who mostly does portraits might come to a different conclusion, based on eye judgments. I would be interested in such an opinion, if there's one floating around.

JC
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jjj
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2008, 02:46:46 PM »
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I just wish the reviews had more factual, usable info these days.  I'll leave it at that...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
If you want 'facts' read the press releases that many 'review' sites post.
Michael's user based reviews are so much better than most of the fluff on the web.
And contain lots of very relevant real world facts too.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2008, 03:18:44 PM »
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John,

I just read through the replies on the Wiki, and to tell the truth, most sound like they come from Canon fans who'd like an unequivocal endorsement of their machines. I thought MR did a decent job of pointing out the various strengths and weaknesses based on experience, rather than on gamut arguments; and the basic conclusion, that most people couldn't reliably pick out which printer made which print, based on IQ, is hardly biased against Canon.


JC
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Well stated.
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2008, 03:29:55 PM »
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I just read through the replies on the Wiki, and to tell the truth, most sound like they come from Canon fans who'd like an unequivocal endorsement of their machines. I thought MR did a decent job of pointing out the various strengths and weaknesses based on experience, rather than on gamut arguments; and the basic conclusion, that most people couldn't reliably pick out which printer made which print, based on IQ, is hardly biased against Canon.

Agreed that image quality is probably a wash, with the exception of reds on the HP.  I didn't so much disagree with Michael on the facts, as the conclusions drawn from the facts.  My summary would read more like this:

1) If archival properties are most important, pick HP.  Epson & Canon are both a distant second, roughly tied from available data (although adequate data on the Canon is definitely in somewhat short supply).

2) If avoidance of dealing with clogging is most important, pick HP or Canon.  This would be a big issue for me, as I have had clogging problems (some major, some minor) with every Epson I have owned.

3) If cheap/easy black ink switches are important, pick HP or Canon.  Epson doesn't cut it here.

4) If you are concerned about weak reds and marks on papers from the transport mechanism, avoid HP (we know the paper marks are a problem, since HP is working on a hardware solution).  Epson and Canon are better choices.

5) From the few test prints I have seen, the automated profiling of the HP (without APS) is not of high enough quality that I would want to use it.  The prints I saw made with automated profiling were instantly identifiable as visually inferior to a custom profile made with Eye-One or from a profiling service.  This was especially true in the reds.  Even with APS, you are stuck with the Logo Colorful rendering when using perceptual.  Personally, I don't care for that rendering because too much detail is lost in the saturated tones that are too squished together.  I always use Logo Chroma Plus (available with Profilemaker 5) instead.

This way of looking at the information shows that each of the printers has strengths and weaknesses in terms of usability.  In my reading of Michael's review, the weaknesses of the Epson & HP were glossed over in the conclusion section.  When I look at the list of strengths and weaknesses, the best choice for me is the Canon.  Obviously each person will come to their own conclusion depending on their needs.

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I had to deal with all of this early in the winter when I needed a new printer, and after some research, went with the Epson 3800. The HP cost quite a bit more, and the Canon (as far as I knew at that point) still had documentation problems -- and I also made my decision based on some comments that you'd made about the difficulty of setting up and using a Canon, which I think was the reason that the Wiki was established, was it not?

Absolutely.  However, Canon has come quite a ways since then (almost a year ago), and the wealth of information on the Wiki makes this pretty much a non-issue at this time (IMO).  I would say that the chief differentiation between the Epson 3800 and the iPF5100 is the roll feed and the space requirements.  If you need roll feed and have the room, go for the Canon.  If not, the Epson 3800 is a better choice.

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But the thing that made me most nervous was that there doesn't seem to be any good documentation on the archival quality of the inks. Why is that? I think Wilhelm tested them, but I can't find the results.

Check the front page of the Wiki to find links to both Wilhelm's results (released by Canon) and Canon's own testing.  Agreed that the quantity of results is lacking.

--John
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jpgentry
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2008, 08:22:49 PM »
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I waited a long time for these two reviews to come out when they were promised to come along.

I have no special interest in Canon over Epson, I just wanted the reviews on this site to help me make a decision and there was hardly a fact stated that MR dug up other than repeat what everyone else had already said (a few things actually correct.)  Then he touts points of the Epson which they should have corrected a long time ago.  People with HP's and Canon's have already passed the discussion about nozzel checks, ink clogs and black swaps.  

A 60-64 inch machine is really about production.  How about the speed it prints a 24x36 vs the ipf6100.  Now someone who prints volumes could have used that info to make a purchasing decision.  First he says the Epson is the fastest he's seen, then the Canon is the fastest in the ipf review followed by the fact that he didnt time it with a stop watch.  We'll that would have been the very thing he could have done that would have helped me and others preparing to buy.

Other examples of this... why not just grab two papers, profile them and show us a gamut volume with map?  How about one matte and one glossy.  It sounds like he could have thrown that in his review since he says he's got alot of prints to compare.  How about shadow detail, etc?

His reviews seem to fly by the seat of the pants and in some cases reflect the popular opinion of hardward instead of the facts to back up his opinions.  If you're not going to include alot of personally uncovered facts you have no right to sway the masses first by saying image quality is a wash and later in the review saying Epson is the best print quality.  STATE WHY YOU SAY THAT SO AT LEAST WE KNOW.

Is pixel peeping what I want?  YES...  You pay this kind of money for a printer and you would like to see a little pixel peeping to make your decision easier.

I'm being critical in hopes it will improve in the future.  If the information I seek is posted on another review site please let me know.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2008, 09:08:21 PM by jpgentry » Logged
rdonson
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2008, 09:01:59 PM »
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You raise good points.  Buying printers of this caliber isn't cheap and its unusual to find people who have all the various printers in their shop let alone the time to do the testing you (and everyone) would want.

Let me ask a related question.  If some who had all the printers in question were to do the type of testing you suggest what would you be willing to pay for the report?
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jpgentry
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2008, 09:13:11 PM »
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$25-100.00  but it would have to be comprehensive and there should be indications of the tests done before I buy.   Honestly I was about to send WayneFox $50 just to tell me what his results of speed on the various settings were on the ipf vs. 11880.  He's trying to get something more comprehensive but I just want to know the times so I know if the differences are 30%, 50% or what...

If the speed differences were small i would possibly buy the Epson even at this point as it has some advantages over the Canon.  

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You raise good points. Buying printers of this caliber isn't cheap and its unusual to find people who have all the various printers in their shop let alone the time to do the testing you (and everyone) would want.

Let me ask a related question. If some who had all the printers in question were to do the type of testing you suggest what would you be willing to pay for the report?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175560\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
« Last Edit: February 17, 2008, 09:36:41 PM by jpgentry » Logged
Wayne Fox
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2008, 01:10:40 AM »
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$25-100.00  but it would have to be comprehensive and there should be indications of the tests done before I buy.   Honestly I was about to send WayneFox $50 just to tell me what his results of speed on the various settings were on the ipf vs. 11880.  He's trying to get something more comprehensive but I just want to know the times so I know if the differences are 30%, 50% or what...

If the speed differences were small i would possibly buy the Epson even at this point as it has some advantages over the Canon.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175562\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, I've dropped several hundred dollars in ink and paper testing this.  I don't need the money, I'm just curious.  Hopefully I'll get an answer to one question on the wiki and then I can post the PDF that's ready to go.

As a preview I will tell you that in no way is the Canon faster, unless you are happy with it's 8 pass mode ... a setting I personally never use.  Even then, we're talking 66 sq.ft hour vs the Epson at 50 Sq ft per hour at it's lowest high quality setting (and a setting which is higher quality in my opinion), a far cry from the 60 to 70% slower than Canon claims in their competitive brief.  At the highest quality setting possible on both printers (2880 dpi on the Epson, 600dpi Highest with precision on, or 32pass on the Canon), the Epson is  faster (21 sq. ft/hour vs 17.45 sq ft. hour).  Of course you have all those speeds in between ... where to they "match" up quality wise.

What I might add, and please don't take this personally because it isn't intended that way, but most buying this caliber of printer are far more interested in output quality that raw production speed.

I understand pixel peeping is what you want, but the problem is very simple.  Both printers have 8 different potential quality settings for high quality papers.  Each step down from the maximum potential quality results in faster production, and results in a slightly lower quality image.  Still extremely high quality, but slightly lower.  The challenge is where to they match up?

Anyway, hopefully I can post the PDF tomorrow.
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neil snape
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2008, 03:37:31 AM »
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All the speed in the world will not get the clients cheque in your bank any faster if there is fiddling or worse , reprints to make before print delivery.
There are faster poster printers out there, but in our niche group they don't count for much.
Before Canon or HP were actually in this arena, the facts on Epson came and still come from users. Only those with test or early production units will ever have just enough lead time to figure out the true merits of the printers. What changes occur when the printers are shipping then can easily render null the original findings. It is actually a good thing that users post their findings here. The cumulative knowledge has been at it's peak since LL has taken over in the LFP multi brand forum.
Michael's review adds his very experienced user's stamp on a new printer that he has just now had time to get to know, use, learn, and write about between so many other things he is doing, most of which are of benefit to all of us rather than personal projects.
There are others who intimately know the devices but cannot know all three brands to this level. Joe Holmes comes to mind. By being under NDA though has it's built in limits. You'll find limits in any review. Where the fill in the blanks come from are actual users, as each of us use the devices differently. Whereas I don't appreciate magazine reviews as they are obviously succinct reports mostly based on marketing docs, reviews such as Michael's are really valuable as a start point to understanding printers that we are interested in.
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2008, 06:39:57 AM »
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4) If you are concerned about weak reds and marks on papers from the transport mechanism, avoid HP (we know the paper marks are a problem, since HP is working on a hardware solution).  Epson and Canon are better choices.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175511\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just to put my 5 Swiss "centime" oil on the fire.

In the past (3-4-5 years ago), it happened that I bought an HP PhotoSmart printer in the 800 CHF range (400-500$). Well, right, it's not a "professional" printer but it's also not a "cheap" low-end printer. So? This printer badly suffered from pizza wheel marks on the prints. I called the HP support. They vigourously denied the "problem" but... reluctantly replaced the "defective" printer. The new printer came with the same problem! I had to fight 2 more times for changing the printer! And eventually (gosh!), the 4th printer that I received was free of these pizza wheel marks. It took more than 6 months for the whole process. Oddly, HP claimed several times that my support request "file" was lost and that some of my contacts on their support line "did not longer work for them"... mysteriously. I am a polytechnical  engineer and it was obvious for me that there was a mechanical design flaw with their printer. From that time on, I said to myself "never again an HP printer, I don't want to deal again with them".

Recently in this forum, I read claims from people owning a Z3100 (this brand new high-end HP printer) concerning the infamous "pizza wheel marks".  This printer is no more a 800 CHF printer. Right?! In Switzerland, it's 10 times this price (at least)! And there is still this "problem" of pizza wheel marks on glossy media. Don't let me laugh! And I also read that some people had to fight again with HP support (in the US this time) for making HP admit that there is indeed a design flaw in their printer. Oh yeah! And eventually (after some amount of fighting) HP changed their mind.. There is a now a new "mechanical design" coming from HP Barcelona (if I'm right). Personally, what I read between the lines, is that there is always the same recurrent problem with HP printers from 4 years ago! A problem also encountered in their low-end printers. Dot. It's a shame that such a problem occurs in their expensive printer dedicated to pro market. Not only there is a design flaw but people had to fight with HP. That's even worse! Eventually HP moved. Oh yeah? Of course! They were forced to because at that level of price (it's expensive a Z3100!), it's assumed that problems ought to be solved: if you bought a Porshe, you are expecting everything to work fine! Right?

Eventually, I went for Epson. Never had any problem with their printers. These printers are not heaven, of course. They have some "limitations" and irritating features (_not_ design flaws) such as wasting black inks when swapping black inks. There is also this so-called "clogging" problem that I never encountered. Yes, there is sometimes some clogging if I left the printer unused for several months. But this is quickly fixed with a nozzle clean up. Is this a problem? It's just maintenance. Don't you sometimes add oil apart from gasoline in your car? Nozzle clean-up is a part of maintaining the printer. It's like cleaning or vacuuming the printer. There is also some technical advantages to fixed printing heads: once you calibrate the heads (= the printer), they remain so forever. If the heads are changed each time you change the ink cartridge, you have to recalibrate the printer because it is not feasible (due to manufacturing tolerances) to get an absolute perfect match amongst all the heads on any ink cartridges.

Now, for replying the original subject header "state of reviews". As an engineer, I admit that Epson does a pretty good job. Their quality checks also satisfy me as expected. This is definitely _not_ the case with HP. There is also some problems with Canon but not to the extent of HP. My job as an engineer is to provide a good working solution to my clients with no design flaws. Today, I see more and more such "flaws" in products coming from big companies. Do not forget that we struggle with big companies. Design flaws in a niche market (high-end photo printers) will not impinge that much on HP revenues. They move because they want to grab some of the Epson market. On the other hand, Epson is not in a hurry resolving the black ink swap problem because part of their revenues come from selling their inks. As for the reviews in general, I think that most of them are biased (IMHO) except for some of them. I agree with many people in this forum (I think) to say that Michael testing procedure is not biased so far (IMHO again). What's important in the reviews is to clearly reveal the problems or design issues, instead of hiding them.  A review ought to be the counterpart of marketing campaigns.

Well, all I said is purely IMHO of course.

_michel moreaux
Switzerland.
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jpgentry
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« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2008, 09:06:49 AM »
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As a preview I will tell you that in no way is the Canon faster, unless you are happy with it's 8 pass mode ... a setting I personally never use. Even then, we're talking 66 sq.ft hour vs the Epson at 50 Sq ft per hour at it's lowest high quality setting (and a setting which is higher quality in my opinion), a far cry from the 60 to 70% slower than Canon claims in their competitive brief. At the highest quality setting possible on both printers (2880 dpi on the Epson, 600dpi Highest with precision on, or 32pass on the Canon), the Epson is faster (21 sq. ft/hour vs 17.45 sq ft. hour). Of course you have all those speeds in between ... where to they "match" up quality wise.

I really am interested in the time it took to print not sq ft/hour calcs.  I don't use 32pass on the Canon as I was very happy with the highest setting (for photos) on my ipf8000 before that mode was available.

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What I might add, and please don't take this personally because it isn't intended that way, but most buying this caliber of printer are far more interested in output quality that raw production speed.

We'll just have to disagree.  The majority of photographers and readers of this forum will not be buying anything over a 24 inch printer.  The majority of 11880 and ipf9100 printers will be repro shops.  Repro shops will benefit greatly from good speed but with quality results that please their customers. Quality of print is of course a high concern to everyone, but buyers of these 60 inch printers will be much more concerned with speed than photographers printing and selling their own work.  The only reason in my opinion people (on this forum) are interested in the big Epson is that it represents the next gen 17, 24 inch.  The 9100 prints at a very high quality for this size.  Anything more is a bonus which is why I'm less interested in quality comparison.  The consensus is that print quality is a wash and my guess is Epson will have a slight edge in gamut though Scott Martin who works in color says the gamut advantages of the Canon are better suited to photography.

The jump in price from the 44 inch printer to the 60 inch is big.  The price doubles for only 16 extra inches of width.  Most photographers are not going to go there, and subtle differences are less important on images of that size. Gamut of course IS important at any size and thus my interest in the Epson.

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I understand pixel peeping is what you want, but the problem is very simple. Both printers have 8 different potential quality settings for high quality papers. Each step down from the maximum potential quality results in faster production, and results in a slightly lower quality image. Still extremely high quality, but slightly lower. The challenge is where to they match up?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175590\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

A little pixel peeping is what I want from the review sites (a more thorough review.)  I really am just interested in the times it took to print an equal sized image from the three or four primary settings of the Epson and Canon.  I don't need unidirectional as I don't think it's necessary on the new generation of Epson or Canon as it was on my old 9600.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 09:24:52 AM by jpgentry » Logged
neil snape
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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2008, 09:19:00 AM »
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Slaughter, it's hard to find much of anything about "reviews" in your post.
As for the rest it seems that you are happy with your Epson but still angry at HP. You go on to claim things about a printer you don't have upon which you are quick to throw stones at engineering problems which you are assuming are a continued conspiracy that is somehow a carry over problem from the Photosmart you had 4 years ago.
If you really want to know, any printer that uses multiple rows of traction wheels rather than aspiration will run the risk of some marks depending on paper, ink density, no matter what the brand.
You'd be hard pressed to find any transport marks on any of the media that were designed for and available at the time of dev on these printers. Any marks  will always be on third party media, and the few that do are enough concern that a solution was made according to posts here.
Is that something that reviewers should put in their reviews? Probably. But it is not a curse as you want to make it sound, but a choice of technique in the feed path.  
Where you won't get any argument is with the build quality of the Epson LFP's , they are very well done, and have had many more years to perfect them with incremental changes to where they are now.
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jpgentry
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2008, 09:44:21 AM »
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All the speed in the world will not get the clients cheque in your bank any faster if there is fiddling or worse , reprints to make before print delivery.
There are faster poster printers out there, but in our niche group they don't count for much.

Neil, I've had the Canon for a year and don't do any fiddling.  That is an area where I am most happy with the Canon.  The suction feature is excellent and the driver is a one click affair once presets for media types are made.  I also had the Epson and no fidding.  Fiddling hits the HP hard.  I fiddled alot with the dj130 and I hear people are fiddling alot with the Z's when it comes to paper handling.  Rear paper loading and frequent squewed messges are not issues with Epsons or Canons.  Additionally HP does not make the 60 inch size that I'm interested in so the two choices for me are clear.  That said I love what I hear about the Z for print quality of black and white.

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Before Canon or HP were actually in this arena, the facts on Epson came and still come from users. Only those with test or early production units will ever have just enough lead time to figure out the true merits of the printers. What changes occur when the printers are shipping then can easily render null the original findings. It is actually a good thing that users post their findings here. The cumulative knowledge has been at it's peak since LL has taken over in the LFP multi brand forum.
Michael's review adds his very experienced user's stamp on a new printer that he has just now had time to get to know, use, learn, and write about between so many other things he is doing, most of which are of benefit to all of us rather than personal projects.

I appreciate your comments on Michael.  I don't have anything against him and I'm here because I greatly appreciate his reviews.  I just wish there had been more put to it and that more balance was included in the review.  I also of course greatly appreciate user reviews.

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There are others who intimately know the devices but cannot know all three brands to this level. Joe Holmes comes to mind. By being under NDA though has it's built in limits. You'll find limits in any review. Where the fill in the blanks come from are actual users, as each of us use the devices differently. Whereas I don't appreciate magazine reviews as they are obviously succinct reports mostly based on marketing docs, reviews such as Michael's are really valuable as a start point to understanding printers that we are interested in.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175611\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Good points.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 09:47:08 AM by jpgentry » Logged
neil snape
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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2008, 10:29:06 AM »
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Fiddling for me is going to happen with any printer. Not necessarily the fault of the printer, as drivers and operating systems cause their own printing problems. Environmental shifts printing image quality quickly so there too you have to take into account these operating conditions. RIPS are by nature things that need to be fiddled with. Cleanings and checks are things too to be done.
Please note, I did not address any particular make, just the way printmaking has to be looked at.
Only those who have two or more current brands can really compare paper loading, for which I cannot. When I did have a Z I quickly learned to load it efficiently, and assume that I am not over-gifted in loading printers more so than anyone else. The few times I loaded on Epson I didn't find any problems either, but I'm not an expert there, not having an Epson LFP. I do like the fact that Canon have triple load on the 5000 done in a way that makes since.
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2008, 02:04:48 AM »
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michel moreaux,
your experience is the exact opposite from mine so I guess our data together cancels out?

I've had 3 epsons - a 3000, a 4000, and a 7600.  While I was able to produce nice prints from all three printers they all suffered from clogs, paper loading problems and many other issues to the point where I would often waste days sorting out the problems and wasting a lot of ink and paper along the way.  Epson never was helpful with my problems. The 4000 was the worst IMHO because it would constantly do stuff like work great on one print, then fail to load the second sheet or print half a print then stop or fold the corner over on a print.  Sometimes it would just leave marks. The user interface was just stupid and not intuitive.   On many occasions I wanted to either bash the printers to bits with a sledge hammer or toss it out the window.I swore I would never, ever buy another Epson after those were sold.    

I bought an HP B9180 which worked flawlessly and made very high quality prints without any hassle.  After a few months my printer experienced a problem and HP replaced it with overnight shipping. That printer has performed perfectly for me.  I've never had any problems.  Everything works and works well. The UI is designed well.  

I sure hope that HP comes out with a 17 inch with paper tray model like the 9180 or its bigger brothers.
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