The HP 2500 and 3500 are large format printer models that have an onboard mini-RIP. Their print quality can be improved by adding an after-market RIP.
The HP 2000 has no RIP at all; the 2500 has the mini-RIP; the model 2800 comes with an EFI Fiery hardware RIP. All the 2xxx series are 36" wide.
The HP DesignJet 3000 is 54" wide, has no RIP (you need to select your own after-market RIP). The 3500 has the mini-RIP on-board. The 3800 has an EFI Fiery RIP.
Whereas these models are still available, they are gradually being replaced by the superior HP 5000ps (a more robust mini-RIP onboard) and the HP 5000 (you add your own RIP). The HP 5000 come in two widths, 42" and 60". The model 5000 is 1200 dpi with six colors, so faster and better in all respects.
FLAAR has a model 2800 and the quality is more than satisfactory. These printers last a long time and all supplies and parts are readily available worldwide. So if you wish to get a good deal for an entry-level printer, see if you can get your hands on a demo 2xxx or 3xxx. They will cost half of what you would pay for a Roland and are multiple times faster and easier to use. Besides, Roland inks and especially media can get very expensive. On top of that, many more kinds of media will work with the HP DesignJet printers (over 40 kinds of paper, textiles, even metal foil). This suggestion is primarily if your plan for photo-realistic printing or fine art printing is a one-person enterprise and on limited budget.
Since we were content with our two HP DesignJet 5000ps printers (one at each university where FLAAR has an office) for the first year we did not upgrade to the newer 5500ps. But readers kept asking for our opinion on the 5500ps, so we decided to acquire one for evaluation.
If you are planning a higher level enterprise, then consider the HP 5000, which is notably better, faster, and more advanced than the HP 2xxx or 3xxx series.
The main FLAAR review of the HP 5000ps began in January and included an evaluation of its forthcoming UV pigmented inks. Yes, these UV pigmented inks do exist and have been available for sale since March. Since June 2001 we have been using these UV inks daily at our new evaluation center at a university in Ohio.
Every several years there is either a new Canon iPF printer or a new Epson or a new HP water-based printer that is made for giclee, decor, or fine art photography. It is hard to keep track of the advances in improved inks and color management features. FLAAR is keeping track by visiting giclee ateliers around the world that have these various brands. Each brand has its good points and a few issues and an occasional deficiency.
Since FLAAR itself does not sell printers, for you to find out information on prices and availability of each model that can print fine art giclee well, we suggest you contact a company that offers all three brands: Canon, HP, and Epson. This way they are not going to push just one brand because they offer all three. Plus you need a company that has plenty of experience with fine art photographs, photo labs, and giclee atelier.
If you are looking for a place that is not a box-pusher (meaning you want a place that provides service after the sale), then one place we know for many years is Parrot Digigraphic. Their telephone is 978.670.7766.
Last checked Jan. 15, 2003. Updated Aug. 14, 2001.
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