Professional graphics and publishing programs, Macs, and ink-jet printers haven’t been the best of friends, due to the printers’ nearly universal lack of built-in PostScript capability. You need a PostScript printer if you want to produce EPS files from Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand, or QuarkXPressand Adobe’s new InDesign software won’t print on anything other than a PostScript Level 2 or PostScript 3 device. Many graphics pros have also found that inexpensive ink-jet printers often fail to reproduce colors accurately.
That’s where Adobe’s new, $249 PressReady 1.0 comes in. Combining a PostScript 3 translator and color-management functions, it lets you use almost any Mac program to produce color-accurate PostScript output on several non-PostScript ink-jet printers: the Canon BJC-8500; the Epson Stylus Color 800, 850, 1520, and 3000; and the Hewlett-Packard 895C, DeskJet 1120C, and 2000C. The program does what it promises, but it’s seriously overpriced and works with a limited range of printers. Adobe says PressReady will support other, unspecified printers via future downloadable updates.
Using PressReady is simple: just select the PressReady driver in the Chooser (as you’d select any printer driver). We tested the software with an Epson Stylus Color 850, printing photos with PressReady and with the native print driver, and then comparing both prints to the original image. We found that PressReady does indeed create higher-fidelity output. While the native Epson output was more saturated, the colors were less true to the original, flattening out detail and gradations. The PressReady output’s tone and detail were much truer to the original image’s.
Although PressReady does produce better-looking output, printing takes longer with PressReady than with a native driver. However, the time difference varied widely; some images took twice as long to print with PressReady, while others printed nearly as fast as they did with the native driver.
PressReady does more than let you printand that’s actually a problem, because the added features needlessly inflate the price. The package includes Adobe Acrobat Distiller 4 software, which allows you to generate a PDF file directly from the Print dialog box when using the PressReady driver. However, this option, accessed through the Printer pop-up menu, is easy to miss, and Adobe’s own PageMaker software can’t take advantage of the feature because its Print dialog box doesn’t let you change printers.
The Circulate utility lets you print and e-mail PDF files, but it has some serious limitations.
Another utility, Circulate, lets you navigate your hard drive and select one or more PDF files to print or e-mail (see “Poor Circulation”), but it’s very limited. For example, if you want to print a file, the program launches Acrobat Reader, and you print from there. However, you can do this easily enough yourself by double-clicking on a PDF file in the Finder. Circulate can also attach selected PDF files to an e-mail message, but it doesn’t work with Microsoft Outlook Express 4.5. The PressReady package additionally includes Adobe Type Manager 4.51, a $100 font-management utility.
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