User login

Review: HP Designjet Z3100 Printer

Features and highlights of the 44-in. Z3100.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Andrew Darlow

I installed both the Mac and Windows drivers, and both have performed very well. Workflow is no different than many other inkjet printers, although there is one difference with the HP system: Paper profiles are stored on a 40-GB hard drive inside the printer, which means that you can have the profile conversion done by the printer and still get very accurate results. For example, in Photoshop’s File>Print with Preview screen, you would choose "Let Printer Manage Colors." You can also have Photoshop or other programs do the conversion at the application level (for example, "Let Photoshop Manage Colors") and the print driver will automatically switch to "Application Managed Color," which is a nice feature that helps avoid potential "double color management."

The Windows XP system that I’ve been using is connected over Ethernet. Many of the printer’s options and features can also be controlled via a Web interface, by just entering the IP address displayed on the printer’s front panel into a Web browser from any printer on the network.

Overall, the printer looks very high-tech and it’s very well constructed. The main top cover is made of smoke plastic, allowing you to see what’s happening inside, which is reassuring. Like anything made of this material, it attracts dust and is easily scratched, so I’d recommend an acrylic cleaning product and a soft rag or paper towel to help keep it protected.

I have been testing the Mac OS X driver using a PowerBook G4 attached via USB to the printer. A few times over a 3- to 4-week period, I had to restart the printer when connected via USB, but since the firmware update, it has been running very smoothly. I now realize that one of the issues was due to the fact that under File>Page Setup, in order to have the Z3100’s driver allow sheets to be loaded, a specific page size made for sheets had to be selected. Otherwise, the driver may only display "roll" as a paper option in the print driver.

Spectro on board
At the heart of the HP Designjet Z3100 is the printer’s embedded spectrophotometer, mounted on the carriage. It uses i1 Color Technology from X-Rite and works extremely well. This system makes it possible to calibrate and make profiles for HP as well as non-HP branded papers.