We're considering a new A3 inkjet, a Canon I9950 primarily, siince it seems to be at the frontline currently. It even has a Firewire port for Macs, which should speed it up a bit. However, it lacks built-in networking. Does anybody here have experience on how to make it work on a mixed MacOSX-MacOS9--WindowsXP network?
We're primarily a Mac-based company, but the WinXP machine must be able to print without restrictions just like the others.
I guess it should be possible to connect the printer to a Panther Mac and Windows-share the printer. However, I'm afraid Canon's drivers might not like that setup.
A better alternative would be a Mac and Windows-compatible printer server with an Ethernet port. Again, some drivers might not like that option.
Does anybody have more knowledge about this?
Currently, we have an old Epson Stylus Photo EX as color printer. It's serially connected to a beige G3, and shared on the network with Epson StylusRIP software. However, this only works for the Macs on the network. To make it available for Windows, we select the networked SPEXprinter on a OSXPanther machine, and Windows-share it!
This is of course an extremely complicated setup, because the print job travels from the WinXP machine over the network to the Panther machine and then back over the network to the beige G3, where the software RIP sends it on to the printer.
This setup often goes down, and we haven't been able to color-balance the Windows print jobs to our satisfaction. This is why I'd prefer a direct and equal network connection!
I don't know about the Canon, but I have successfully set up the Epson Photo EX with a generic (Linksys) print server and it worked easily with both my Mac (OSX) and PC (Win2K).
You might want to consider the Epson 2200 for A3 printing. I haven't used it myself, but it looks very good. The Epson wireless print server will work with it so I assume a wired server would also. It is a bit pricey though.
We talked over this at the office today, and after I'd complained enough about the problems involved supporting the set-up I described, we agreed on purchasing an A3 laser (or LED) printer, the Xerox 7300N.
It is a bit pricey as well, but counting the countless hours I've spent supporting the odd setup we have, i think not. Not counting the issues I've had when working to 4 in the morning with a presentation for 9 the same morning, then wanting to print 5 copies of 8 pages and finding the printer wants 10 hours to print it! Even with the new Canon I mentioned, which needs about 2 minutes per page for full-bleed color, this would still mean at least an hour and a half. Too much when all you want is to get home for two hours of sleep instead of baby-sitting a very moody ink-jet!
Now I expect color printing to work as easy as b/w. (I realize there is some calibrating to do, but I hope that's a one-timer!). And this printer will relieve our ancinent workhorse the Apple Laserwriter 8500 as well.
I do hope (fingers crossed) Xerox quality is as good as Apple's, though. Our first Laserwriter (a IIf) lasted for 11 years, with one (1) service, and our second (the LW8500) for 7 years with a total of two visits from the serviceman. It can hardly get any better than that!
And, I forgot, the reason I considered a Canon ink-jet instead of Epson, was primarily speed. While Epson's print quality still is a premium, I've heard that Canon is getting close at a much higher print speed. And the best Canon printer I mentioned above even has a Firewire connection for Macs, to make it even faster (I guess approaching a PC parallell port 😞.
But today I found out that Canon is still lacking good network support for these printers, something that Epson has had for years, both connectivity solutions and RIPs. As you can see by the weird measures I've had to take to get the WinXP box on our network to talk to the Epson SPEX, this can be a real problem. And I've never got the setup to yield good color balance when printing from Windows. So I think a networked Xerox laser with native drivers on both platforms will make it easier for me!
I didn't realize you were in the color laser price range. I have a client who bought the Xerox (the predecessor to the 7700, I forget the model number now) on my recommendation and has been very happy with it. My current primary client is using the HP8550 which is also a very nice printer.
Two words of caution:
1. The speed of the machine is a double edged sword. It's great to be able to crank out prints fast, but you have to be careful not to let the printing volume expand out of control. The cost of the toner can be a killer. It is a good idea to have a cheap B&W laser around for printing web pages, letters, etc. that don't need the color. The staff also needs to be aware that the color is expensive.
2. The color quality is not as good (IMHO) as with inkjets. The laser applies solid ink (toner, pigment, whatever) on the surface of the paper where the inkjet penetrates slightly, better preserving the finish of the paper and producing subtler effects. The laser prints tend to be darker and more saturated. It's is somewhat like the difference between oils and watercolor.
Finally, I have always found color management (like fonts) to be more troublesome on Windows than on the Mac. I recommend that you try to do all your color critical work on the Macs if that is possible.
In my office we have a networked Epson 2200 with an Epsonet print server that plugs into the back of the printer. We too primarilly use Macs, but OSX is so friendly to Windows network that a Windows machine occasionally sends prints to the printer.
That said, I have been considering dumping this printer for the latest Canon Inkjet too, but as you have noticed, there is no network solution from Canon on the Canon printers.
Just so you know, we have tested the Canon against the Epson for color, and at the highest resolutions, the Epson prints much better, truer blacks in details, and shadows in our opinion. However, on glossy paper, the black ink does not look as "glossy" from the Epson as the Canon.
Epson has finally ( read two years after its release ) has come up with drivers that work all the functions in OSX. Epson printers print great color quality prints (photo printers - we mostly use for high quality rendering prints ), but tech support, customer support, and driver udates only get a grade of "c".
Canon I believe has better support. HP makes the most OSX friendly drivers.
So my vote for a inkjet printer is a HpEpsonCanon printer. HP for networking, Epson for high quality color, Canon for customer support.
Good luck on your decision.
Architects Design Forum, Ltd.
thanks for all good advice! As I said, I think we've considered most of the issues involved in this purchase. I realize the Xerox 7300N is expensive, but I think it will pay for itself in less hassle getting the color prints out. It will be a monthly leasing deal, which is managable. And it may of course increase our use of color, but I think that's a good thing because I think our clients will appreciate it. Of course I'll keep an eye on too much needless in-house use of color.
We may still have to get an inkjet for premium quality photo prints, but as the 7300 has A3, the inkjet can be small and cheap. We'll see if it's needed.
And Matthew, rest assured I'll use my Mac for color critical work. I know Windows is a problem in that respect. Still, my (new) colleague who's using WinXP in the office is the one who's pulled this deal through. He's a construction engineer and architect. He uses mainly Autocad, but wants the color mainly for quick print-outs of site photos.
We may keep the old LW8500 a while yet for safety, but I doubt it will stay for long. It's simply too big!
I think I promised to get back with a report. I can just say the Xerox 7300N fulfills every one of my expectations. Works nice and fast. Color is becoming a useful option more than a troublesome obligation! And with a 36-month payment policy, it doesn't feel that heavy.
If the durability of the Laserwriter we've had is any indication, I think this printer will pay for itself.