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News from Photokina: HP’s new Z-series printers

The photokina World of Imaging is being held at the Cologne Exhibition Center in Cologne, Germany from September 26 to October 1, 2006. From the exhibition organizers’ facts and figures sheet, “photokina is the only event in the world which offers a comprehensive presentation of all the imaging media, imaging technologies and imaging markets — for consumers and professionals alike.”

They’re not kidding! Almost every imaging-related industry is represented, from companies headquartered in cities across the globe. I’ll be highlighting a few of the photo and digital print-related products over the next few days. To start things off, HP introduced four new “Z-series” wide-format inkjet printers. I had an opportunity to see the printers in person and print my work on these printers a few months ago. The HP Designjet Z3100 is an 12-ink pigment-based inkjet printer, with 24 and 44-inch wide versions and HP Designjet Z2100 is an 8-ink pigment-based inkjet printer, also with 24 and 44-inch wide versions.

The HP Designjet Z3100 runs on 11 HP Vivera pigment color inks (four of them black or gray), plus a twelfth Gloss Enhancer “ink” that provides better gloss uniformity and helps reduce bronzing on gloss and semi-gloss papers. In the prints I saw before the printer’s final release, image quality was sharp and detailed, with vibrant color, a nice grain structure and little gloss differential or bronzing, especially when the Gloss Optimizer was used. The printer also comes with four black/grey inks, that help to make monochrome prints look more smooth and neutral.

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The HP Designjet Z3100 (left-24″ model, right-44″ model)

The HP Designjet Z2100 uses 8 HP Vivera pigment color inks (the same combination of inks that are used in the HP Photosmart Pro B9180, a 13-inch printer that I’ve been testing with impressive results on both matte and gloss papers. No gloss optimizer is used with the Z2100, but color and black and white output on gloss and semi-gloss papers has very little bronzing or gloss differential. The Z2100 has one less gray ink compared with the Designjet Z3100 (three vs. four black and gray inks). A monochrome output option on both Z-series printers allow for just black and grey inks to be used, which allows users to produce prints with very even tones and longer expected longevity. For information on expected longevity on a variety of papers for the Pro B9180 (same inks as the Designjet Z2100), visit www.wilhelm-research.com.

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The HP Designjet Z2100 (left-24″ model, right-44″ model)
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The HP Photosmart Pro B9180 (about $700)

One of the features that sets the Z-series printers apart is their embedded spectrophotometers, which use Eye-One technology from GretagMacbeth to allow for the creation of custom profiles right on the printer. I was very impressed by this technology and HP has created a step-by-step process to make it the process easy to complete. Both printers ship standard with a stand, and built-in connectivity options are Ethernet and USB 2.0.MSRP for the printers is as follows:HP Designjet Z2100: $3,395 (24″) and $5,595 (44″). HP Designjet Z3100: $4,095 (24″) and $6,295 (44″). For a good overview, with a link to the full press release on the new Z-series printers on HP’s website, visit this link.

On HP’s site, you can also order free sample prints from many different printers, including the Z-series.

And here’s a link to some testimonial videos, also from HP’s website, which are more about imaging, design, creativity and photography than just the new printers. One of the videos features the Digital Atelier’s Dorothy Simpson Krause, Karin Schminke and Bonny Lhotka.
Stay tuned for more announcements.

Check pricing and read more about the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 at Amazon.com

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