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Review: HP Designjet Z3100 Printer

Features and highlights of the 44-in. Z3100.

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By Andrew Darlow

Within about 25 minutes, any paper can be calibrated and profiled. Through an on-screen Wizard, the system optimizes the placement of and prints a calibration target with 64 patches on roll media or sheets as small as A4 (8.3 x 11.7 in.). It then optimizes the placement of and prints a profiling target with about 465 profiling patches on roll media or sheets as small as A3 (11.7 x 16.5 in.).

The spectrophotometer uses a UV cut filter that helps to produce more accurate results when measuring papers containing optical brighteners. At virtually any time, the 64-patch calibration target can be printed and automatically measured on the Z3100. For example, a new calibration should always be done after an ink cartridge or printhead change, however, the larger profiling target does not have to be reprinted. The calibration procedure brings the printer to virtually the identical state as the printers in HP’s labs when the HP media profiles were created. This should help make the HP-created profiles very accurate, and on the four HP-branded papers I’ve tested to date, I was very impressed by the color accuracy and neutrality of the gray ramps of the matching HP profiles. This is important because users operate printers in many different climates-from deserts to rain forests-and the calibration procedure should help machines print more consistently, whether people use custom- or vendor-built profiles.

HP Easy Printer Care (Windows) and the HP Printer Utility (Mac OS X) come with the Z3100, and both have the tools necessary for system maintenance and color management. Virtually any media from any manufacturer can be loaded, calibrated, and profiled. After calibrating and profiling, you can save the profile to the printer, and it will then appear in the "Custom Paper" section on the front panel. You can also export out the profiles to your computer’s profiles folder so that you can use them in Photoshop or other programs for soft proofing or for converting to the profile as described in the "Out of the Box" section. Profiles created with other hardware, or by other Z3100 users can also be copied to the printer’s internal hard drive.