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Review: HP Designjet Z3100 Printer

Features and highlights of the 44-in. Z3100.

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By Andrew Darlow

After going through the calibration and profiling procedure with three different papers and a canvas, I made prints on all the media and found the color to be very accurate, particularly the neutral grays. Sharpness and detail were also excellent. The software asks you to choose a media type similar to yours so that the ink is applied in an appropriate way.

You also have the ability to choose the media drying time and whether or not the printer should cut the media after printing. The cutter works very well on matte and gloss papers, though I’ve only done about 150 cuts thus far with paper as thick as 265 gsm.

Although I’ve not tested it yet, a more full-featured calibration and profiling option, called the HP Advanced Profiling Solution, is available for about $1000. The hardware/software bundle, developed with GretagMacbeth (now X-Rite), includes a monitor calibrator as well as special software that allows targets with more patches to be output and scanned with the on-board spectrophotometer. In addition, the software allows profile editing and CMYK output profiling.

Also of interest is that HP and Adobe have developed the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Calibrate Printer button. This Windows and Mac OS X-compatible option enables you to launch the Z2100 or Z3100’s color-management tools directly from the Lightroom Print module. And while we’re talking about Adobe Photoshop, there is also a Photoshop Print plug-in for the Z3100 (though it wasn’t available at press time), designed to make it easy to print directly out of Photoshop CS2 (probably CS3 as well). I’ve used the plug-in for the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 printer and it’s a joy to use because it bypasses the traditional driver by placing everything in one well-designed screen.