It's here at last!
Yes, I have been anxiously waiting for this Harman FB gloss paper right through August, and in fact I ordered two packs of it from three different suppliers this week, so there is advanced faith in the product, if you like. I actually got delivery of some A4 yesterday, and spent all of the evening running some tests. Propped up on my desk as I type is one of the prints from last night, and just to cut a long story short I will say straight off that it is superb.
My tests were on my Epson R2400 with the standard K3 inkset, all in B/W from scanned medium format film, and printed via the Advanced B/W mode on the Epson (I do not use ICC profiles for B/W work). Out of the box, the paper looks and feels very good - it is crisp, has the right sort of "snap", and the surface is very smooth with a nice soft gloss. My first trials were via the rear feed slot as I do with the heavier rag papers, but the gloss feeds perfectly well through the front sheet feed too, as I found out later. On the Epson, there were absolutely no marks on the paper surface from the paper feed mechanism. I also tried feeding a sheet upside down but even that did not mark the paper, so I assume that the problems mentioned in this respect can only apply to certain HP printers.
I am fortunate in that I still have a large archive of my own silver gelatine darkroom prints, many of them on the old Ilford Galerie graded paper, for comparison with inkjet prints. My first test prints used the paper setting as recommended by Harman for the R2400 and set to "neutral", which produced quite a cool-looking print. Toned to "warm" and printed with the dark curve in the ABW mode, the prints on the Harman FB Gloss are uncannily close in almost every respect to the old Galerie prints.
The nearest paper to my ideal in the recent past was the Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss 285gsm, which I have used extensively. In my opinion, the Harman is superior in all respects - it has a nicer gloss, better surface texture, and most importantly better shadow detail. In fact, the Harman has much better shadow detail and as good or better highlight separation than any of the recent fibre-base glossy papers, according to my tests with two very tricky negatives last night. Bronzing with the K3 inkset is minimal, but there is inevitably still some gloss differential - however Harman have got the surface gloss of the paper itself very close to natural gloss of the K3 inks. The only downside I have found so far is that the surface is quite delicate and easily marked, as others have noted. Not as delicate as the Harman FB Matt paper, to be fair, but you will still have to be careful when handling and mounting the print.
I really hope this paper will be a winner for Harman, because I can see that a lot of thought, time and craft have gone into it. This could be the media that makes glossy B/W printing on an inkjet printer no longer the poor relation of the darkroom.