I just read through the replies on the Wiki, and to tell the truth, most sound like they come from Canon fans who'd like an unequivocal endorsement of their machines. I thought MR did a decent job of pointing out the various strengths and weaknesses based on experience, rather than on gamut arguments; and the basic conclusion, that most people couldn't reliably pick out which printer made which print, based on IQ, is hardly biased against Canon.
Agreed that image quality is probably a wash, with the exception of reds on the HP. I didn't so much disagree with Michael on the facts, as the conclusions drawn from the facts. My summary would read more like this:
1) If archival properties are most important, pick HP. Epson & Canon are both a distant second, roughly tied from available data (although adequate data on the Canon is definitely in somewhat short supply).
2) If avoidance of dealing with clogging is most important, pick HP or Canon. This would be a big issue for me, as I have had clogging problems (some major, some minor) with every Epson I have owned.
3) If cheap/easy black ink switches are important, pick HP or Canon. Epson doesn't cut it here.
4) If you are concerned about weak reds and marks on papers from the transport mechanism, avoid HP (we know the paper marks are a problem, since HP is working on a hardware solution). Epson and Canon are better choices.
5) From the few test prints I have seen, the automated profiling of the HP (without APS) is not of high enough quality that I would want to use it. The prints I saw made with automated profiling were instantly identifiable as visually inferior to a custom profile made with Eye-One or from a profiling service. This was especially true in the reds. Even with APS, you are stuck with the Logo Colorful rendering when using perceptual. Personally, I don't care for that rendering because too much detail is lost in the saturated tones that are too squished together. I always use Logo Chroma Plus (available with Profilemaker 5) instead.
This way of looking at the information shows that each of the printers has strengths and weaknesses in terms of usability. In my reading of Michael's review, the weaknesses of the Epson & HP were glossed over in the conclusion section. When I look at the list of strengths and weaknesses, the best choice for me is the Canon. Obviously each person will come to their own conclusion depending on their needs.
I had to deal with all of this early in the winter when I needed a new printer, and after some research, went with the Epson 3800. The HP cost quite a bit more, and the Canon (as far as I knew at that point) still had documentation problems -- and I also made my decision based on some comments that you'd made about the difficulty of setting up and using a Canon, which I think was the reason that the Wiki was established, was it not?
Absolutely. However, Canon has come quite a ways since then (almost a year ago), and the wealth of information on the Wiki makes this pretty much a non-issue at this time (IMO). I would say that the chief differentiation between the Epson 3800 and the iPF5100 is the roll feed and the space requirements. If you need roll feed and have the room, go for the Canon. If not, the Epson 3800 is a better choice.
But the thing that made me most nervous was that there doesn't seem to be any good documentation on the archival quality of the inks. Why is that? I think Wilhelm tested them, but I can't find the results.
Check the front page of the Wiki to find links to both Wilhelm's results (released by Canon) and Canon's own testing. Agreed that the quantity of results is lacking.