Let the new arms…er…inkjet race begin.
Canon’s PRO inkjet printer line consists of three (the PRO-1, PRO-10, and PRO-100) air-fed, 11-plus-1-ink/10-ink/8-ink, professionals-oriented photo printers, and it’s long been speculated that a new series would emerge with larger paper feed capacity. This is likely since the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 and 3880, and now the SureColor P600 and P800, with their 22-in by 17-in paper size have trumped the existing Canons’ 13-inch by 19-inch maximum paper size for a long time.
I’m not one to buy into rumors, but the emergence of the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 (truly a mouthful of capital letters and numbers, for sure) may very well signal the approaching end of the smaller PRO line.
Evidence, you ask? I’d say the recent flurry of advertising materials for the new series and the rebates and free paper being offered for purchasing the 13-inch models (including $250 off the price of a PRO-1, bringing it down to $749) suggest a looming changeover. Moreover, the PRO-1’s model life is pretty long in the tooth (it’s over four years new now).
The PRO line has also always been out-of-sync with the other Canon ultrawide format printers, the stand-alone imagePROGRAF series, so a termination of the three “outsiders” would allow the company to bring its entire professional inkjet printer under the same massive, capital-lettered, numerically-innundated imagePROGRAF line.
I can’t say I’m sorry, though.
While I love the blacks of the PRO-1, as you may have read here in an earlier post, I’ve found the Canon burns through ink at an alarming (and expensive) rate. I think some of this can be attributed to the smaller tanks (36ml), since a larger tank produces a greater economy of scale for the ink. Remember: You’re paying for the ink container technology, not just the ink itself, every time you need a refill. What’s more, I’ve never been a fan of the Canon PRO-1’s 13-inch max width, which becomes 12-inch-max-width when using third-party fine art papers. Frankly, the printer makes little prints.
But this may all be about to change. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 machine accepts 22-inch by 17-inch paper sizes, just like the Epson, and it has about the same price point ($1,299). Furthermore, The new Canon has larger 80ml tanks, just like the Epson. Here’s the kicker: If I were Epson, I’d be concerned just by those two developments, but not terrified. The real worry will come not due to matching the specifications of the existing Epsons, though. The game swings toward Canon in the printer’s feed system.
The long-standing Epson “Pizza Wheel” problem—small holes made in the surface of prints by metal feed teeth when using either the rear sheet or manual feed slots—is a favorite gripe of professionals. The Canon uses an air-feed system that makes no marks on the print, and “sucks” the print closer to the print head. The Canon also has an anti-skew feature which does a good job of keeping the paper straight during print feeding; Epson users like me have long struggled with rear paper skew problems using fine art matte papers. Translation: pristine, mark-free, skew-free prints.
The new Canon also increases the nozzle count by 50 percent, and requires no ink tank switching (the Epsons require moving between photo black and matte black tanks, a process that costs at least 1.8 ml or 4.6 ml of ink each time). The end result is a tighter print that doesn’t make you wait while the tanks change.
Now keep in mind, this post isn’t a review. I haven’t had a chance to see the new Canon, though I’m hoping to get my hands on one soon to test it out (I’ll let you know how that goes). I’ve had no luck whatsoever in getting ahold of Epson to secure a SureColor P800 for testing, either. As soon as I do, you’ll find the results right here.
The Canon isn’t an Epson-killer, since it doesn’t accept roll paper–a significant Epson advantage on the P800. But for the time being, it would seem Canon has called Epson’s bet and raised the stakes.