HP’s Designjet 90; Affordable Large Prints Page 2

To test the calibration accuracy, I ran Moab's Entrada Fine Art and Moab's Kokopelli Photo Satin through the printer. In all cases, with the Moab paper as well as HP's own Premium Plus Photo and Proofing Gloss, Premium Plus Photo Satin, and Photo Matte papers the prints were consistently high in quality and color accuracy. In a pleasant surprise, even black and white prints were very well done with minimal color cast and good shadow detail.

The HP print driver also has an Advanced Color Settings option if you choose to fine-tune your prints. Control over brightness, saturation, and overall color tone as well as adjustments for individual CMYK color are available. HP also provided a copy of ColorByte Software's ImagePrint 6.0 for my use. I'm a long-time user and fan of ImagePrint so I was very happy to see support for the Designjet printers. Profiles are currently available for Hahnemühle, LexJet, and HP papers, and all with ColorByte's high-quality level. Included within ImagePrint is access to HP's in-printer calibration features.

The HP print driver allows you to fine-tune each of the primary ink settings along with brightness, saturation, and tone. You'll find these settings most useful for custom jobs--the supplied profiles are very accurate and the closed loop color calibration makes adjustments unneeded for most printing.

All system maintenance, including calibration, print head maintenance, and tech support are all just a button click or two away.

Overall Impressions
The print quality on the Designjet 30/90/130 is excellent, and with HP's Premium papers the print life is archival at 82 years. If you print on matte or fine art papers though, you'll likely be disappointed with the print life. HP's own Photo Matte paper is still in testing but currently rated at greater than 10 years. Because this is dye-based ink, you'll need to laminate your prints if moisture is an issue. Finally, print speed, particularly at the Best quality setting, isn't particularly fast, with a 16x20" print taking about 8 minutes.

For most of us though, the ultimate measure of a printer is the output itself. The Designjet 90 excels here with beautiful photo printing, especially on their own gloss and satin papers. Colors are rich and vibrant with smooth tonal gradations in all areas. Portrait photographers will love the neutral skin tones and fine detail produced by this printer. And, anyone who has priced medium or large format printers will appreciate the low cost of the Designjet 90.

Technical Specifications
Ink Technology: Six-color HP Vivera inks
Paper Handling: Up to 18" paper width (manual feed or optional roll feed); 17" width paper tray
Interfaces: USB 1.1 (2.0 compliant) or parallel port (optional HP Jetdirect network connection)
Operating Systems: Windows 95 or later; Macintosh OS 9 or OS X
Prices: Designjet 90--$995; 90r--$1150 (includes roll feed); 90gp--$1350 (includes roll feed and colorimeter for display profiling)

If you're looking for a high-quality photo printer at a reasonable price, the HP Designjet 90 should be high on your list.

For more information, contact Hewlett-Packard Company, 3000 Hanover St., Palo Alto, CA 94304; (800) 888-0262, (650) 857-1501; www.hp.com/go/designjet.

Jon Canfield's latest book, "Print Like a Pro," is available from Peachpit Press. You can reach Canfield through his website at: www.joncanfield.com.