Inbuilt profiling would be a boon for most users that either use canned profiles that are notoriously bad, especially from labs and pro shops, or make their own, often without the skills to do so. Continual profile adjustment seems to be critical for thermal heads (HP and Canon) that wear faster than piezo (HP, Roland).The problem is the number of patches is really too low in the standard profiling set up and the procedures for perceptual renderings is not, and perhaps cannot be , standardised. So on board profiling is a move forward, but is very limited for fine work.
4 K inks may be better , but not necessarily, as they are probably different dilutions of the same ink. The dithering, size of droplets and dot placement are determinants of quality. These parameters seem to be better controlled with piezo heads. Reports so far on the latest printers suggest viewers can pick little between the results , but the Epson 11880 has an edge. I am sure this improved technology will be seen in the next generation of smaller Epson printers.
Quaility in B&W seems to be superior when mainly K inks are used , say with Advanced B&W or with a RIP and with profiles created for optimum lumininosity (rather than chromaticity). Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think this can be done with on board profiling.
Finally, I would be interested in reports of residual ink in the new 11880 carts.
For HPs and Canons repeated profiling shouldn't be necessary and is in fact not the right approach either. Given the nozzle control, cleaning process, substitution of nozzles there's no reason thermoheads are less consistent in laying down ink. This is a new generation of thermoheads. The way the cartridges are drained with an integrated pump active per cart and for the Canon a circulating ink channel up to the head there's also less chance of pigment settling anywhere in the system. That's the base the rest builds on.
Repeated profiling isn't needed at all on the Z3100 for a given paper. There's a calibration function that can be used once a month as recommended or can be used voluntarily when a new batch of paper arrives. That calibration will create an even more consistent base to use the profiles on. Profiling in itself shouldn't be used to correct a printer that's no longer delivering linear output on a specific paper etc but calibration should be used instead. RIPs have for that the linearisation function for every printer including Epsons and that done a permanent profile is created on top of it or a generic one can be used. Epson introduced the ColorBase software to give their printers a kind of calibration function about 3 years ago. Not so convenient as it is done on HP's or Canons. The integrated calibration is a step forward for all inkjet printers and the convenient, integrated profiling makes the use of third party papers much easier.
The issue of rendering intentions, BPC, etc not being standard is a general one and not a printer, profile creator, brand, specific one. The APS extension for profiling includes a profile editor and larger targets. There's an endless debate going on what even more patches deliver. There's no discussion that linearisation/calibration enhances color consistency in time.
The Z3100 B&W mode benefits of the integrated calibration like the color mode does. Right out of the box. Custom B&W media presets can also be calibrated that way for a specific paper, for both the quad or tritone ink selections. On top of that you can make QTR profiles for B&W that are used in the CM of the application you print from. The last can not be done with the integrated profiling of the Z3100 but should theoretically be possible too, the hardware isn't the limit there just some extra software is needed and an extra target. The calibration of the 4 K inks has 48 patches but that happens before the partitioning, a 51 patch profile target on the partitioned K channels should be possible. I have mentioned that 18 months ago when the Z3100 was launched at the Photokina 2006. HP has upgraded more soft and firmware since and who knows what may happen before the Photokina 2008. I have a perfect neutral, measured linear (but calibrated) B&W media preset for Photorag and the custom QTR profile for it.
There's an integrated solution. The perceptual luminosity distribution of B&W prints made with the color mode is based on the (integrated) calibration + profiling done and will not use any color ink either if the file is neutral. The long black generation from 0-100 % in the media preset takes care of that. Color ink will be added though if paper white compensation is set in profiling. As there's no control of black generation it means you have to put a microscope on the graywedge print to check whether there is color used somewhere. There isn't when it is done correctly. I see however a slight Dmax gain in using the B&W mode instead of the color mode.
Going back to ink economy, a neutral KKkk or Kkk only B&W media preset like standard with the Z3100 B&W mode doesn't use color inks for composite grays like Epsons ABW mode still does to some extent.
I think the 11880 should suck its carts better percentagewise like any big bag will drain better percentagewise if compared to smaller bags. Comparing it to the Canon iPF9000 (reported to leave very, very little in the carts, but spits about 12% in the waste box) and the Z6100 (no idea) is then the right way to do it.
Try: [a href=\"http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wide_Inkjet_Printers/]http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wide_Inkjet_Printers/[/url]