The Z3200-PS 44” first impressions. As a user of a Z3100 over the last two years there will be references to that experience too in the following text. It is weaved in where appropriate and set apart where it does not apply to the Z3200-PS. Hardware Assembling the parts was a one man job most of the time, the manual a good guidance on what to do. An addition in the manual could be that while the stand is symmetrical itself, there are some plastic protrusions at the top that allow only a one way assembly of the printer part to the stand. For that reason the vertical parts of the stand should be attached to the printer part first and after that the feet with wheels, that way the connections for the paper catcher in the feet can be put at the front side of the printer, something that is harder to foresee if the complete stand is assembled first, which the manual recommends. You need at least two man for turning the printer upper part over before the stand is attached and you need two man for getting the total on its feet on the floor. Shift the polystyrene foam blocks on the pallet to the side it will turn from and do that again after the first 90 degrees turnover. Like the manual says, avoid any sideways strain on the wheels. Attaching the paper catcher basket is easy. It did its job on the Z3100 and has not changed on this model. To the eye the hardware shows little changes if compared to the Z3100. De tray at the rear for sheet feeding is made more simple and that’s an improvement. At the back of it is the knife guidance bar to cut the start of a media roll straight. It now is from edge to edge aluminium so there are no plastic parts in the course of the knife. The impractical sliding parts to deepen the tray surface are no longer there. However instead of using the tray I prefer to insert sheets over the roll spindle with a core loaded and align them to the disc of that roll spindle then. The paper transport rolls (pinch wheels) are of the new softer type, the tan coloured ones. Much better for paper coatings that are soft. Closer to the front, the starwheel bar is not of the manual adjustable type that was in the replacement kit for the Z3100. It suggests that other measures are taken to reduce the chance of marks on the paper coating by the star wheels. One of the measures could be the new ribs just in front of the star wheel bar that will make the curve of media deeper underneath the star wheels. In the custom media preset menu a new choice is available on the starwheel height, so it is likely that instead of the manual adjusting it is done automatically with the choice of a media preset. The parking station for the heads has an effective design, it is more complicated than I first thought, pads and wipers are there too but for one reason or another it works without wasting much ink. It is part of a concept that doesn’t rely on excessive spooling with expensive ink to keep the inkjet heads in good condition. In practice that means: No maintenance tank that has to replaced. No nozzle test for every job because you fear that there will be trouble again. No long cleaning steps that you have to do before printing or that start automatically at that moment for some unclear reason. My experience over two years with a Z3100 was that the printer works almost 100% of the time. Over the last two years there have been few messages on Z3100 nozzle or ink issues on several forums I follow so I’m not the only one with that comforting experience. The Z3200 like the Z3100 before it will at scheduled intervals squirt very small quantities of ink from every nozzle and a sensor controls the quality per nozzle at the same time. When a nozzle will not function after some attempts it will be replaced by nozzles kept in reserve. The ink properties are however keeping the nozzles in optimal state so the exchange of clogged nozzles is in fact hardly happening on machines with little use. The six heads have in total more than 12500 nozzles. If a head wears out due to high volume production it can be replaced quite easily with a new one. There’s a warranty on the heads too so any factory fault will be compensated. A head should be capable of pumping 2.5 litres of ink before it needs replacement, the warranty goes to 1 liter.   There’s one thing to keep in mind, not a real problem but I recommend to regularly clean the lid/tray where the heads park above. Ink will accumulate there in time and could transfer to the heads, where it may drop off during a print job. It would be nice if it was easier to get access to the head parking station, something for a next generation. There are ways to get there though. Before inserting the cartridges I measured the weight of one and measured its weight again after the initialisation of the printer. There was 16 gram of green ink used to fill the ink tube. Later on the printer utility software indicates an average of 13 ML used per ink channel so this takes in total 12 x 13 ML is 156 ML of ink. No issues with the cartridges and their installation. Inserting the heads gave some error warnings. Two had a kind of fatty layer on the contacts. Wiping that off with a smooth cloth did the trick. The fan makes more noise than the one on my Z3100. Reading more comments in time this must be a quality control issue that hasn’t been solved since the introduction of the Z3100. Some people complained then as well but I was lucky with the quiet Z3100 I received. Printer Panel Menu The menu structure of the printer panel shows some changes and there are some extra functions added. On first sight all are improvements. When media is inserted the panel shows three choices right away: roll, sheet with skew control, sheet without skew control. The last was a firmware addition to the Z3100 sometime over the past year but one had to dig deeper into the menu structure to set that function. It is handy for sheets with deckled edges but makes it also easier to register sheets against improvised tabs for dual sided printing. There’s something I like to suggest for another firmware update: add a fourth choice at the top that says something like “repeat former media choice” and make that the default. It saves time if you do not have to go three steps into the menu to set the same choice again and again on for example large dual sided sheet jobs. The new job management choices in the printer panel are nice. It could be that this is a PS model related item so it may not be new at all. On the plain Z3100 the use of the Windows printer spooler map made similar job repeats possible and the network connection plus a browser or the Printer Utility program offered some of the other features. This addition could be nicer and a bit faster in practice when media is changed and the job can be repeated on the printer right away. Next to the media move function there is now a move + cut function possible. there are cosmetic changes where functions are more hidden to avoid accidental errors and the grouping of functions is changed. Then there are the PS related extras in the panel menu. Printer Utility The Printer Utility version installed is the same as the last updated version of the Z3100. Both printers are presented when both drivers are installed on the same system. It offers all the usual functions: Cartridge contents and head conditions like quality, warrants. Media preset and profile installation and management. Custom media preset creation with ink limits, drying time, etc. Media calibration and the basic profile creation with the integrated printer’s spectrometer. Media supply assistance. I will extend this part later on but the user interface is easy to understand for any user. Drivers For the Z3200-PS there are two drivers available, the PostScript PS3 driver and the PCL3 version that also is the driver for the plain Z3200. The Z3200-PS PS3 driver has features and functions that are new to me. Part of that are Postscript extensions but there are more common choices brought in.  If the user prefers to select or is forced to use the printer driver colour management then there are four choices of colour spaces in the PS3 driver:  the  sRGB + AdobeRGB and Colormatch + Apple RGB spaces. The first two have a Gamma 2.2 and the last a Gamma 1.8. HP recommends to use Application CM for colour work but for B&W it recommends the printer driver CM and greyscale setting. In that case the 4 colour space choices are also available and one should be aware that the Gamma difference affects the B&W output. I have to test what kind of consequences that has with B&W files with and without the usually assigned ICC profiles, gamma or dotgain values. So far the only choice was Gamma 2.2 and the B&W workflow I used on the Z3100 was based on Gamma 2.2 from capture to print (more on B&W printing later). The PCL3 driver of the Z3200- PS has only the sRGB + AdobeRGB choices in printer CM mode. While HP recommends the use of printer driver CM for B&W images, the only B&W Printing Shortcut that comes with the driver has it fixed on Application CM. Strange but that hasn’t changed since the first Z3100 was introduced. My first step is to create new colour management defaults where colour is done with Application CM and B&W is done with Printer Driver CM. I save them as custom Printing Shortcuts and the colour one as the default. With the Z3100 settings made in Printing Shortcuts stick better in combination with some applications, individual changes in the driver made from the applications tend to fall back to the default. It may be better on the Z3200-PS but I have not enough experience yet. Printing from applications without CM gets the best compromise with the existing default Printer Driver CM plus sRGB. Print Page Sizes There’s more to discover; for example I see some differences on the page size settings of the PS3 driver compared to the Z3100 PCL driver. What was introduced in a driver upgrade on the Z3100, the warning issued when a shorter length than width is selected for the print page, is on the Z3200 with PS3 driver more problematic. With Qimage I could change the portrait position to landscape in the PCL driver of the Z3100 and it would print the image as a landscape print page on for example a roll as intended, not so with the Z3200 PS3 driver and Qimage. The Z3200 PCL3 driver works exactly like the PCL driver on the Z3100 though. The PS3 driver doesn’t know a true borderless print mode unlike the PCL version that makes borderless printing possible on glossy roll media. The print page length issue of the Z3100 PCL driver is no longer there if you use the PCL3 driver on the Z3200-PS. Settings like 12 meter = 40’ length do not crop the width of the print. I have no idea whether that issue is also solved for the plain Z3200 with the PCL3 driver. On the Z3100 it would crop the width of the image to something like 20 cm when print page lengths above 275 cm or similar lengths were set. The PS3 driver has a hard print page length limit of  129” = 328 cm, the settings above that default to that size and the limit is clearly indicated in the menu. There is a different approach to print margins and print page size settings between the PS3 and PCL3 driver, it is hard to explain but in for example Qimage you will get a size presented without the 5 (18) mm margins for the PCL3 driver and with the margins for the PS3 driver. The minimal width of media that can be loaded is about 30 cm (A3’s smaller dimension) for roll media and 21 cm (A4 smaller dimension) for sheets, shortest length to load is about 27 cm. In general I advise to use the PCL3 driver all the time if no specific Postscript features are needed for the job. The driver copes better with bitmap images, seems to be faster with them too, has less limitations on sizes, is easier to understand and may have a flaw less. Both drivers can be installed for one printer all the time, they share the paper calibrations done and the available ICC profiles. Copyright Ernst Dinkla
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From March 25th, 2009 HP Z3200-PS logbook Hardware Print Page Sizes Drivers Printer Utility Printer Panel