Glad to her that your in a better place! Ernst, it was interesting reading your post regarding Wasatch RIP. First I also had similar experience with the Canon IPF9000, only this was with EFI CPXF and Canvas. It's interesting to see how each of the RIPs are working with n-color linearizations and profiling. EFI Colorproof linearizes on top of the HP media sets so you basically treat it as a CMYK device. This is a much more simplistic approach but has yielded good results on proofing media. There are some issues however since the linearization is not really limiting CMYK channels, since the pipeline is RGB to 11 color. While I too was skeptical of what an RGB pipeline could offer when working with an 11 color device, however I have to say that it does a very good job considering. I feel like a lot of the issues at play here are really the complexities of n-color profiles and linearization showing their ugly face. I dont think the average user understands the degree of complexity behind this. Making that process transparent and putting a good RGB path in front of it is really a blessing. Yes there were some initial problems. The new firmware will actually be very similar to the 126.96.36.199 just with more flexibility. The separation tables are more or less locked down, however some papers like the Photorag pearl will get a bit more attention.
I do find it amusing that some people really think that that hundreds of very very smart engineers with more experience, time and resources at their disposal simply didnít test the inks that they cooked up first? They think they were busy extracting ink from ball point pens 20min before the product release date, and accidently grabbed the pink pen instead of the red pen?Thatís not to say that the end result is always perfect or appreciated. However we are not present to see all of the obstacles in play. and of course it is not a simple matter of not mixing ink correctly!!!! RIPs like Onyx are really very interesting because all the tool for creating a good profile are at ones disposal. You have complete control over each channel, the transition curves between solid and light inks, CGR, profiling variables ...everything you could possible want.
The question as to weather a RIP can deliver better results than the drivers is usually yes. Better workflow, better speed, better accuracy. However will it yield better photographic output, or bigger gamut...not always. In some cases a RIP will reduce gamut, especially those targeted towards proofing. Of course with complete control you can go for the large gamut. What you will find is that to produce "better" results than those from the driver you will spend many hours and lots of ink and media, and that's in you really know what your doing. Onyx has a PDF for profile creation specifically for the Z3100, it runs around 30 pages. I know my way around the program fairly well and it took me quite some time to get good results. To really produce a first rate job would require a lot of trial and error. RIPs are really about productivity for the most part. In fact sometimes they are hindered since special screening is sometimes only available in the OEM drivers.
All in all I think this produce should be mature in the next few months. The minor problems that are really problems should be addressed by then. In the end there will be and Epson "look" and and HP "look". I believe Ernst made the anology of film looks. Some people loved Velvia and others loved Kodachrome. And of course there were those who swore that all Fuji film was inherently green (I'm sure it couldn't have had anything to do with the box)