Accurate Color on the Cheap

One of the hazing rituals of designing color documents is the moment your first one comes back from the press. Colors that looked just right on your inkjet printer often have undergone an unpleasant transformation. There are ways to predict what your color will really look like (such as asking your professional printer to make Matchprints) but costs add up and these methods aren't fast.

This week at Seybold Boston, Hewlett-Packard (800/752-0900, www.hp.com ) and Adobe Systems (800/833-6687, www.adobe.com ) announced a new alternative for making color proofs, or comps--the $700 HP DeskJet 1220C/PS, which will ship this May. Targeted at the creative professional in a small office or home office, the HP DeskJet 1220C/PS may also appeal to full-time graphic designers with tight budgets.

The HP DeskJet 1220C/PS includes a scaled down version of the $249 software Adobe PressReady. Like its full-featured sibling, PressReady Basics changes the way the color inkjet printer lays down ink to make the output closer to that of a professional press. Adobe believes the match is accurate enough to allow you to skip interim high-cost comps and order only a final test. PressReady Basics mimics only two types of high-end printers, SWOP (a U.S. standard) and EuroScale. Its only other difference from PressReady are small user interface tweaks designed to make the program more friendly for the novice, such as plain-English terminology for quality versus speed choices.

The printer handles paper and transparencies from 4 by 6 inches to 13 by 19 inches, and can print a full-bleed on a 11 by 17 page. Resolution is up to 600 dpi for black ink. As usual, HP doesn't provide specs for color resolutions without software enhancement; it says the enhanced or interpolated color resolution is 2400-by-1200 dpi.

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