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Please help me buy a printer and a scanner.

Apr 18, 2008 8:57 AM

Hello:

I am in hope that I could please have some opinions regarding purchasing a new printer as well as a scanner. I have done research, however I have read these forums and marvel at the great deal of hardware expertise that emanates from so many posters. I have only owned one printer, an ancient Canon bubble jet that no longer works.

My system: Mac Pro 2 x 3.0 GHz Dual-Core with an Apple Cinema Display; software: Adobe CS3 Design Premium and MS Office 2004; OS: Tiger 10.4.11.

This purchase is not for use in some busy design studio. Everything would be for my sole use in my small Manhattan apartment.

I would like something that prints my Photoshop and Illustrator files very well along with good photo reproduction. I will be doing brochures in InDesign with insertion of Photoshop and Illustrator artwork as well as some PowerPoint slides. I need something that prints text well also. It would be great to have a printer with which I could print my business cards (as well as brochures) utilizing a somewhat heavy weight paper.

I was initially tempted to get one of those all-in-one machines, however, I rarely have to fax or copy anything. It seems to me that if I want to copy something, I could just scan it into my computer and then print it. Regarding faxing, I am assuming that I could also scan and then fax utilizing the fax software that comes with the Mac OS (hopefully the software worksnever tried it). I could get an HP all-in-one on sale for as little as $150.

Another printer that I was considering is the Epson Stylus Photo RX680 (again an all-in-one). Macworld gave it 4.5 mice. I find myself sort of dismayed with its having an LCD display and photo retouching software that I obviously dont need. The cheapest price I have seen for that is around $130 (maybe). I tend to be a little skeptical about these online prices until I actually make the purchase. The scanner has an optical resolution of 1200 with 9600 x 9600 interpolated (not sure as to what interpolated means in this case).

I find myself more drawn to the Epson Stylus 1400. This was recommended to me by Epson pre-sales support, however I dont feel cynical about the suggestion.

As far as Epson goes, what would be more of a fantasy printer for me is the Epson Stylus R1900 (cheapest price I found is around $500). What particularly strikes me about this one is that it can print on paper with a heavy weight. That would be great for my business cards and brochures. While for me it is a little high in price, I am still considering it.

Another possibility that I have looked at is the Canon Pixme Pro 9000. This was an Editors Choice with PC Magazine website. I found a decent price with a rebate. The review says that it would be a good choice for graphic artists.

I find it confusing as far as the difference between a so-called photo printer and an inkjet printer. According to the Epson guy, it does not seem to matter.

For a scanner, the Epson person recommended the Epson Perfection V500 ($169 w/customer loyalty). It has a 6400 x 9600 dpi resolution. While I dont know much, this seems to be good enough for me, both for capability and price. I have read some good reviews of it.

Thank you to all who would care to comment on any printer or scanner options. I find myself almost dizzy by all of the possibilities and I am open to any suggestions and any manufacturer. I am without a printer and I hope to make a purchase with the next few days.

Also, thank you to all who simply bothered to read this very long posting.

James
 
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    Apr 18, 2008 11:57 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Hi James,

    You can't go wrong with an Epson scanner. I think they are an exceptional value. For a dozen years I used Epson printers and was content. Recently I tried a Canon for my small day to day printing and couldn't be happier. I've had no clogged jets, something encountered with Epson printers regularly. I'm also very happy with the color quality and durability of the inks. If fact I'm tempted to try a Canon when my Epson 4800 starts getting seriously outdated.
     
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    Apr 18, 2008 1:00 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Buy the Epson R1900 printer if you want good photo quality capability. Clogged jets have not been an issue for quite a few years now, since back at the SP12xx time frame. Canon quality is also good but Mac color managing is easier with Epson.

    V500 sounds fine as a scanner. Personally I much dislike all-in-one configurations for real work.
     
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    Apr 18, 2008 1:14 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    If you buy a Canon 9000 series you may have to uninstall the drivers and reinstall the latest.

    Epson AIOs are very convenient, software is a little slow. Try using VueScan, although Ed updates his software every two weeks. Don't get the 6400 x 9600, native resolution is only 800 spi.
     
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    Apr 18, 2008 1:45 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Epson
     
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    Apr 18, 2008 1:58 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    >Clogged jets have not been an issue for quite a few years now, since back at the SP12xx time frame. Canon quality is also good but Mac color managing is easier with Epson.

    My experience with a dozen or more Epson printers with clogged jets in the last year seems to fly in the face of your assertion, Allen. You see I do tech support for about 30 Mac families in my area and have always suggested Epson printers in the past. Also I have excellent color prints from my one Canon printer without any tweaking other than using properly calibrated monitor profiles.

    Don't get me wrong you can't go wrong with an Epson printer but there are other equally valid choices (HP is not one of them!).
     
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    Apr 18, 2008 2:16 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    All-in-ones are compromises for convenience and a pricepoint. Leave those to the Staples store salesmen to hawk to others.

    I've got an Epson R2400 -- and the ONLY times I've had to clean the jets is if I haven't used it for a month or longer. Fair enough. I use genuine Epson inks and the color on Epson and other high-end papers is stunning. Type is crisp, too. Speed for high-quality output is commendable. The 1400 also seems to be a great choice if you want to spend less -- and you have the benefit of printing to 13"x19" and wider media.

    My scanner is a Canoscan 9950F -- a versatile performer with both press-the-button idiot-proof output, and good software for the neatly finessing your scans.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 10:39 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,
    >I did some looking into low priced lasers such as a Lexmark and a Brother, but I really dont know what to make of them. I do know that the price of toner for color lasers is very high.

    Laser cartridges actually last a long time compared with inkjet cartridges. But -- if you are looking for photographic-like output, stay away from lasers. Inkjets run circles around them.

    Be careful to check that the model you want to use can print on CDs, if that's important. My R2400 can't, but that's not an issue for me. For printing on thick paper, you need an inkjet that has a straight paper path. But always check with the manufacturer about the thickest stock it accepts.
    >Also, I dont understand what you wrote about native resolution being 800 spi. Was that supposed to be 8000 dpi (6400 + 9600/2)?

    Be careful in reading resolution. A lot of scanners will scan at, say 1200 but can interpolate that to 4800 or 9600. But that is basically a smoothing routine to avoid "stairstepping" along contrast edges, and not a true increase in resolution.
    >Yours has a resolution of 4800 x 9600 dpi while the Epson has 6400 x 9600.

    I wouldn't be terribly concerned. Of course, you can always ask the manufacturers (or a dealer, if they're set up for this) for a small printed sample from each machine and compare them side by side.

    And speed is another issue to throw into the equation.

    From the talk over the past couple of years in this forum, it seems that there have been the most Macintosh compatibility issues with HP, and much less with Canon and Epson, with Epson edging out Canon.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 2:10 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    When a scanner says n x n resolution, they mean n(interpolated from native optical) x n( stepper motor steps) . So 9600 means 1200 optical times 8 horizontal x 9600 steps vertical.
    In the case of a 6400 x, it's probably 800 optical. In the case of a 4800 x it's probably 600 optical. Somewhere in the specs it will tell the actual optical. There's no point in getting lower than 1200 optical.
    600 optical is right at the edge of indistinguishability. 1200 removes any doubt about getting everything that's there and allows more magnification when repurposing the scan.

    The higher numbers are the interpolated smoothing resolution.

    VueScan has many many features. If Silverfast supports your scanner it is also feature rich.
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 2:47 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Lundberg,

    There are relatively inexpensive scanners with native resolution 4800x9600. Interpolation might be 19,200.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 3:09 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    I have an R1800 (which the R1900 is the update to) and I recommend it for color. It is amazing on glossy, a little harder to get good repro on Lustre, haven't gotten it to print well on Fine Art paper yet and have yet to try and print on a CD. I am not sorry I bought it at all.<br /><br />I have a relatively cheap Epson scanner at work (I forget the model # but it cost about $200) and it does everything I want it to. I haven't scanned transparencies yet so that part I cannot vouch for.<br /><br />I have heard and read from many sources that the R1800 (or R1900) is the way to go for color and the R2400 is the way to go for black and white. I don't think you will be disappointed with this printer, until the first time you order ink and paper <k><br /><br />pbc
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 3:13 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    >R1800 (or R1900) is the way to go for color and the R2400 is the way to go for black and white

    Paul, although I've read the same thing about the R1800 and R2400, and I was a bit concerned which one to buy, I am absolutely pleased with the color output -- and black-and-white output -- of my R2400. And I'm fussy about color. Now, I have not compared that color output with R1800, R1900 or 1400 machines, but I cannot imagine them to be significantly better.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 19, 2008 4:33 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    You should definitely buy the correct ink for your machine, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives and plenty of horror stories about what happens when you use them.

    With paper you have a little more flexibility, although good paper from any manufacturer is expensive.

    I don't know how much printing you are talking about but it can definitely mount up.

    pbc
     
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    Apr 20, 2008 6:22 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    As for the cost of consumables (paper and ink), don't skimp, if you care about your images, both for appearance and longevity.

    It has been shown that, in general, OEM inks perform better than most cheaper inks or refills for good color, number of prints per cartridge, non-clogging, and longevity. And ink substitutes can void the printer's warranty.

    As for paper, 20#-32# inkjet bond from the office supply store is not going to delivery memorable quality or long-lasting images. High-end photographic papers, OEM or quality third-parties, such as Hahnemühle and Moab, simply perform better and generally provide greater longevity, along with enough choices to properly complement your images.

    And if you are making a lot of prints, hopefully at least a portion of those are billable back to a corporate client or two. If the prints are being sold as fine artwork, the cost of materials should easily be covered at least several times over in the selling price of the art.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 20, 2008 3:10 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    6400 optical is amazing. I haven't bought a scanner in four years, so technology has passed me by. i should know better than to pose as an expert.
    I can't imagine what 6400 is needed for unless you routinely blow things up by a factor of ten, maybe some people do.
    You're going to spend 500 a year on ink with Epsons in the eight tank line, even for routine use. I spend 250 with four tanks and I don't print much.
    Epsons WILL NOT print if one ink is out. My old Canon would print with whatever colors were left which was ok if you were right in the middle of something black and white and an ink ran out.

    I even used that feature to determine that the software used " Heavy Black Generation" by printing color with no black and seeing the skeletal colors.
     
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    Apr 20, 2008 4:38 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,<br />>I envy your knowledge of paper and supplies.<br /><br />That's it. That's all I know.  <g><br />>Do you usually buy your paper online?<br /><br />For the most part, yes. (I buy almost all my computer hardware, software, and supplies online from reputable dealers. Amazon, Buy.com, Newegg, OtherWorldComputing and Macmall are good starting points.) <br /><br />If you are not near a dealer or do not get to trade shows, contact the paper manufacturers and ask for sample paper swatches (and descriptions of what the different grades are best for). Just tell them what printer you're using so they don't send you stuff that won't work well or fit. You may have to pay a few bucks for the samples, but that's still cheaper than buying a box or roll of the "wrong" paper.<br /><br />As for the cost of consumables, if I'm using my printer for client work, it gets billed to the client and I get back (guessing) 12-20x my actual print cost. Clients should understand things like overhead, time and materials, so this isn't an issue. For art prints, though, it's what the market will bear for your art.<br /><br />Neil
     
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    Apr 21, 2008 4:30 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,
    >I did find info showing that the max media weight is 255 G/m2 (whatever!!). While honesty makes me admit that I havent sufficient knowledge at this point to make a valid comparison, a dealer basically told me that that would be more than enough for my needs.

    Essentially your dealer is right. 255 g/m2 (grams per square meter) is nothing more than an expression of the papers weight (density, although not necessarily thickness). The samples you'll get will be marked for weight, and by easy examination, you will see the difference between 120 g/m2 and 255 g/m2 and be able to make a decision based upon how you will be using the printed output.

    For fine art and framing, heavier is generally better. For family pictures, it's simply how much higher-quality pictures will be appreciated and how much you wish to spend on creating the prints.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 22, 2008 4:13 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Epson's cheaper "Photo Paper Glossy" #S041271 curls very badly but all the other papers work well. Avoid non-Epson papers unless recommended here.
     
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    Apr 23, 2008 5:57 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    >Avoid non-Epson papers unless recommended here

    An open question in this area -- who makes Epson papers? I have trouble imagining that Epson, Canon, HP et al all own their own paper mills. For that matter who makes papers that are branded Staples or Office Depot? Companies may well have their own specs, surely, but how different can they be for, say, premium glossy surface?
     
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    Apr 23, 2008 6:43 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Eugene,

    A good question. Epson et al would most likely not have tree farms and paper mills of their own. They contract out their papers through established manufacturers to make papers to their specs.

    For example, International Paper might have contracts from Epson, Staples and Kodak in this country. Each brand has its own proprietary formula for each grade of "their" paper. But there could be different mill brands contracted to manufacture to the same proprietary formulae overseas. Or even to manufacture different grades under the same brand name in the same market. And contracted manufacturers can change.

    This outsourcing and private labeling is nothing new.
    >but how different can they be for, say, premium glossy surface?

    You might be surprised. Different printer manufacturers could want different additives in their papers to interface best with their inks and for overall print appearance, ink holdout or absorption, paper whiteness, brightness, UV brighteners, smearing, drying times, surface smoothness, gloss, jam-free performance, longevity, etc. Then figure in the stock's stiffness, thickness, substrate composition, pH, coating composition, overcoat, etc. which can be specified differently for each brand. Gloss papers may "look" the same or similar, but they can be constructed quite differently underneath the surface.

    That is some of the reasoning why the only papers that, say, Epson is going to guarantee for print longevity are their own. Same for inks.

    Hey, you can build a home with wood studs or metal studs or block walls, plastic or wood siding, but the end result could look quite similar.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 23, 2008 2:42 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    I use an ancient HP deskjet for text printing, just because the cost of the ink. My R1800 has 8 cartridges which run in the neighborhood of $14 apiece. Unlike some Epson models, photo black and matte black inks are always installed. I forget the cost of a black ink cartridge for an HP 931 or 812 printer, because I only need a new one every several years. But using a $69 printer (say) to produce a 6.9 ¢ text sheet seems like a bargain to me. My printer never dries up, maybe because I live in humid Florida, but they didn't dry out in Maryland or Virginia either.

    As to harming an Epson printer, I don't think it's an issue. They do accept plain paper and will print well.

    As to your first question, I use a lot of Staples extra-super-good glossy paper with great results. I also use PremierArt stuff. You can write me in 50 years and I'll tell you what the prints look like then. I suppose if anybody wanted to pay me for a fine art print at fine art rates, I'd use "better" papers. But a lot of people in this forum say they use 3rd-party papers from Red River, Ilford, Hahnemuhle and elsewhere.

    --Gene
     
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    Apr 23, 2008 3:48 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James - So which printer and scanner did you order? Good luck!
     
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    Apr 23, 2008 6:06 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,
    >As far as avoiding non-Epson papers goes, is that strictly in regards to producing the best print quality?

    Not necessarily. The two brands I gave earlier are quite good, and I believe they both provide profiles.
    >This includes some HP 26 lbs. Premium Inkjet Paper and lots of Great White 24 lbs. inkjet stuff.

    That is lightweight, everyday, run-of-the-mill stuff. Save it for correspondence, not for high-quality prints.
    >Using other kinds of paper cant hurt the machine, can it?

    Not unless it continually jams it. Be aware that print quality might not be up to par.
    >Do you guys use your photo printers for once-in-a-while correspondence?

    Nope. That's why I still have my nine-year-old workhorse HP LaserJet 4050N black-and-white laser printer. Cheap to keep. Cheap to run. And very reliable. And type in letters looks better in laser than inkjet. My Epson R2400 only gets exercised for high-end proofing, art photography, and other high-end imagery, and friends 'n' family photos. I don't need printouts of Web pages and correspondence in color.
    >I really dont want to buy some extra printer just for occasional business correspondence.

    For around $100, you can have a fast laser printer for your correspondence. The cartridge will seem to last forever. And cartridges, even a couple of years old just keep working. (I had the same one in my HP for about eight years before the toner ran out.)

    Neil
     
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    Apr 24, 2008 9:38 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,<br /><br />Good luck and have fun with your new toys!<br />>I see online that some are silver and other are gold.<br /><br />Doesn't have to be gold, but it shouldn't be a thin, barely insulated piece of garbage either. But, the cables are relatively cheap. Buy decent quality, and keep the length short.<br />>The Epson guy with whom I placed my order said that humidity is not good for the printer.<br /><br />Basically, if you're comfortable, your printer is comfortable. Keep it out of direct sun, away from radiators, liquids, and dust, and use it at least every couple of weeks.<br />>There is a constant raining of dust where I live and I worry about how it affects my equipment.<br /><br />First, keep all panels closed when not in use. And, although not an elegant solution, you can keep a large, lightweight plastic trash bag over the top and sides when it is turned off. Or crochet a "cozy" for it.  <g><br />>I may have to put both my Mac and my PC towers on the floor.<br /><br />Of course, vacuuming and dusting regularly help!  <g> There are also feet you can buy that will elevate your towers a few inches off the floor and help keep the dust down. My workspace is a compact "L", with my keyboard and monitor set in the inside corner. So I can keep my Mac tower behind it and out of the way.<br />>thanks for mentioning the possibility of a black and white laser printer<br /><br />If all you are doing is correspondence, or Web page printouts, then cheap, clean, fast, with Mac compatibility and readily available and reasonably priced toner carts would be the selling points. I can't comment on the Brother printers, but we've had very good luck with a variety of small HP B&W laser printers. And the toner carts are readily available.<br />>I do hope that the Epson will print the text in my InDesign files well enough<br /><br />It shouldn't be an issue unless you print on cheap inkjet bond.<br /><br />Hope that helps.<br /><br />Neil
     
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    Apr 24, 2008 10:19 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Get a plastic shoerack to put your towers on.
    Find a geek at Staples and he will tell you they get more returns on Brother and Lexmark than any other brand. I had good luck with a combo Brother the first time , but the second one was unrepairable after it became misaligned. That was almost 20 years ago, however.
     
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    Apr 25, 2008 3:52 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,
    > I have to be where the phone connection is located.

    Well, for my DSL service, I ran a "home run" from my phone service's point of entry with a new cable, along the baseboards to where my computer is for a clean, reliable signal. No telephone jacks or splices along the way. I left a bit of "extra" cable and then crimped on a standard plastic 4-wire connector.

    Or could just use a longer cable from the jack to your computer's router/switch/modem thingy.
    >thank you for the good luck wish Neil.

    :-)
    >I am not a good housekeeper

    No need to schlep out the regular house Hoover. Get yourself a small portable vac, like a Dust Buster that you can easily grab and use during coffee breaks. Remember that, aside from allergies, dust mites, etc. that dust brings, dust is an insulator. If it gets inside your computer, it'll clog the air vents and fans, and coat the cooling fins -- not so good for the life of your hardware.
    >I wonder if Ill end up getting things today after all

    At least with FedEx you can track the package.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 25, 2008 4:51 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James - I use an R1800 and love it. Very few clogging problems... almost none. Consistent quality! Enjoy.
     
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    Apr 26, 2008 12:19 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Tell Verizon to give you a wireless modem/router and then get a USB wireless adapter for your computer and do away with wires forever!
    Put your setup wherever you want.
     
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    Apr 26, 2008 8:00 AM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    Lundberg,

    My concerns with wireless are both speed and security; the latter mostly if you are in a built-up area, and the system is not properly set up.

    In many cases, a longer cable connected to an existing phone jack entails no more work than a quick trip to Radio Shack. A lot cheaper than buying a wireless setup.

    BTW, the router/modem/switch (whatever they call it) distributed by Verizon DOES have wireless capability -- and it's turned ON by default. The problem for me was figuring out how to disable it.

    Neil
     
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    Apr 26, 2008 9:07 PM   in reply to (James_NYC)
    James,

    You did the right thing by waiting to set up equipment. Do it when you are not tired and have time to concentrate on it without distractions or having to worry about the time. This should not be difficult, but there is generally a "quick start" sheet which should get you started.
    >possible black and white HP LaserJet for $100 (also available on the HP site). But, I think that there is a problem with drivers.

    Be careful here. Although HP has a bunch of similar looking small laser printers, some of them do not come with drivers for Mac. Make sure that Macintosh and your OS are listed on the box in the specs. And remember that some of the sales clerks in the mass market electronics stores don't know squat about what they're trying to sell you -- they just want the commission checks to keep coming (as far as I'm concerned, "sales associate" and other fluff job titles don't make these guys more knowledgeable). Apologies to the few who really know their stuff.

    Neil
     
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