Epson’s got a bunch of new large format printers, the x900 series, out. The engine’s the same between the two, the difference is that the 9900 is 44 inches wide while the 7900 can take 28 inch wide rolls. They’re quite an upgrade from their old 7800/7880 counterparts. Completely restyled with a new set of inks, paper feed system, a color LCD panel with a better user interface… these are all nice things. The largest improvement, though, is in the print engine itself.
Number one, it’s deathly silent. The loudest action is cutting and transporting the roll paper. The actual printing process is so quiet it’s hard to hear it over nearby PCs fans. It’s also quite a bit faster than the older printers. I was really shocked at the improvement Epson had made. To be fair, this is their first all-new engine in about four years, so it’s not all that surprising when I think about it. A lot of the technology comes from the 11880 printer that was released a year or so back, but on a smaller scale. It’s most welcomed, because the big innovation on that printer was reducing ink clogs. So far, clogs have not been much of an issue on the 7900.
Epson’s drivers still suck, naturally – not much has changed on the software front. Not that Hewlett-Packard’s are better, mind you. It would just be nice to have a remote panel that isn’t huge and ugly.
On the image quality front, I was already satisfied with the 9800’s quality, except for some highlight banding issues. The 7900 doesn’t seem to have these problems and seems to improve overall tonality. Less banding’s always better in my book.
Compared to the Z series, it loses out by having its spectrophotometer be a $2,000 (!) add-on. Yikes. Hopefully Epson will get the costs down to get it included in the engine like it is on the HP Z series printers.
Oh, and I hate the basket that catches finished prints. It’s awful. Why is the opening so high up? You can’t just reach in and pick up proofs from the front anymore. Maybe it’s adjustable, but the default is incredibly stupid. Bad Epson.
Overall, it’s a good printer. I like it a lot. Would I upgrade to it if it’s my own money? Probably not, unless I could save on ink costs.