But the spectro really should NOT be a factor in the decision on these printers...get yourself ProfileMaker & an i1iSis (even if you DO get an HP) because these will be far better (and more useful) than an onboard spectro. Seriously, this is NOT a factor you should be weighing...
HP MUST include a gloss agent because otherwise their pigment prints look awful. Epson pigment inks do not and the Ultrachrome HDR inks are improved over even the K3 inks...
I'm more than happy to talk about stuff, but you really need to ask precise questions that are simple and easy to answer, otherwise I won't bother.
Sure, but i1 Sis retails for 8000 US$ in Tokyo, that is 4 times the price of the built-in spectro and nearly wtice more expensive that the printer itself... it better be amazingly better than the built-in spectro for that price... and notice that I am not even factoring in the price of the software...
Any cheaper recommendation?
As far as profiles go, HP Z series printers have a huge notable advantage for being able to make profiles for any paper you put in them. Canon is embracing popular 3rd party papers and is making and delivering their own profiles for them. We'll see a bunch more of this in the new few months. Epson is the only one that's providing profiles just for their own branded papers.
I'll attempt to explain in this post why I have emphasized the 7900 spectro in my above posts, and respond to your question, which happens to be one of the key issues.
If the new Epson with its new ink doesn't have a problem with gloss differential or bronzing, as suggested by Schewe above, then the 7900 will be the rough equal of the HP Z series in that regard. In all of the other areas listed in my original posting, my guess is that the 7900 will likely beat the HP Z3200. That is only a guess based on early reports and the tech specs, and we must wait for HONEST reviews to confirm that (not the usual worthless reviews that simply praise equipment without any critical commentary). The Epson spectro, as explained above and below, is one of the important unknown variables at this time.
So there may be those who buy the 7900 for about the same price as the Z series, because the 7900 may prove to be superior to the Z series in most if not all areas. Again, the jury is out and we must wait to see if that is the case with regards to the overall performance of the 7900.
You then posed the key question. If you buy the 7900, what is the best way to profile papers with that printer, and not pay $5,000 for an automatic profiling Xrite device as recommended by Schewe?
As I explained above, any other high quality profiling solution that is an alternative to the US$5,000 i1iSis would be the same price as the Epson spectro, about $1,500. That is one of key issues -- that the Epson spectro would cost the same as any high quality alternative. Those high quality profiling packages include pucks to calibrate monitors, and we already own those and don't need them. These are MANUAL packages -- meaning that you must scan the targets yourself. The larger the target, the better the profile, and the longer that it takes. By contrast, the HP Z series includes a built-in spectro and the APS includes a very large target and prints and scans it automatically.
So the Epson spectro would be the best choice for that printer, at $1,500, since the process would be automated -- IF AND ONLY IF it includes paper profiling software to drive it. The Epson spectro is likely to be of very high quality as a mechanical unit, since it has been built for the professional printing and proofing industry. So the only remaining question is whether Epson, in their wisdom, included high quality software for profiling papers along with the spectro that is at least as good at the APS. (Number of patches in the target, etc.) Scott Martin is absolutely correct that the HP Z series offers a huge advantage because it can profile papers automatically using the APS software. It was that new innovation that set HP apart from Epson and Canon.
That explains why I included a detailed list of questions in my original posting on the spectro. (Apparently not precise enough, though.) That is a key issue IMHO. That is why I reposted those questions for Schewe, because he kept commenting on the spectro, leading me to incorrectly conclude that he had one of the spectros in his possession.
The engineers of Epson would have to be morons to include a high quality spectro but not include the software (like APS) to profile papers. If they are that dumb they will continue to lose market share to HP because the Z series includes a spectro and the APS software to drive it. Because the other Epson printers, as I recall, still have the problem of not being to auto switch black inks -- another problem solved by HP in the Z series.
Epson has dominated the market for the last decade, and it shows in their approach. As Scott observed, Epson only includes profiles for their own papers, and only list their own paper types in the driver. Epson behaves as if there is no other competition, and if there is, it can be ignored. That attitude reminds me of the US automakers 40 years ago, and we know what happened to them. (Note that I included the issue of the Epson driver not including generic papers in the original posting as well, because HP has a more flexible driver in that regard.) But HP and Canon are hot on the heels of Epson, and Epson needs to include these new innovations in their new printers, or they will continue to lose market share in our end of the market.
But engineers have been morons before. It may be that the hubris of Epson results in a $1,500 spectro that is only good for RIPs or proofing and fails to include APS-type software to profile papers. So my view is that the jury is out on the 7900 until we get definitive answers on how the spectro works. And have detailed, yes even precise answers, on the software that is, or is not, included to profile papers.
In closing, I agree with Scott Martin that the HP Z series has a "huge notable advantage" in including a built in spectro along with high quality software that makes profiling ANY paper an automated process.
I respectfully, and strongly, disagree with Schewe that automated paper profiling should not be a significant factor in which printer to buy. Anyone who has gone through the laborious process to manually scan targets knows what a pain that is. HP set a new standard in that regard for a completely automated approach. Epson needs to meet that standard.
If the Epson spectro fails to include software to drive it for profiling papers, then we must all make our own individual buying decision. Is the Epson superior enough in all other areas, as compared with the Z3200, to justify buying it even when it does not include automated paper profiling? Or is the Z3200 pretty close to being as good as the Epson in all other areas, so that the added bonus of automatic paper profiling tips the balance in its favor? Each of us will have to make that judgment call, and it is a personal decision. And even if the Epson does include paper profiling with the spectro, the total cost of the printer and spectro might be about $1,500 higher than the Z3200, and that is yet another factor for each person to consider.
The only alternative that is automated for the profiling of papers, as Schewe himself noted by recommending it, costs about $5,000. That is more than the price of the printer itself.