Epson Stylus Pro 5500 provided to FLAAR for evaluation at Bowling Green State University.

Epson 550 at parrots but in PMA
All printers are tweaked to look stunning at tradeshows. The question is whether they produce the same quality in your home or office? That's why it helps to have tips and info from FLAAR.

The nice Epson Pro 5500 looked so impressive at trade shows. We felt it would be a good printer to try out.

First results were okay. But then we began to hear back from other end users, from around the world.

At tradeshows even color management experts talked openly of the lack of color gamut with the poor Epson pigmented ink. So now you see the range of documentation that we rely on for a more realistic discussion of each printer. We still have the 5500, but it was withdrawn from Europe after even European resellers said too many people asked for their money back. Wow, was that meaty information that no one else knew about (it helps to have an office in Europe ).

So we have updated our report on the Epson 5500; we also comment on the HP 20ps, part of the HP 10ps, 20ps, 50ps, and now the 100-series of dye-ink printers. In the meantime HP has come out with its DesignJet 30 and DesignJet 130, with long-life dye inks.

Canon has at last added pigmented ink, available now in several sizes. We talk about the w6200 on this site and the w8200 on our sister site

Epson 5500
Epson 5500 being put to the test at FLAAR BGSU.

Epson sure understands the market for photo and giclee printers. The downside of the pigmented ink they selected was the limited color gamuts. That is why photographers and color management people gave this printer thumbs down. And why people are now looking at the HP 30 and Canon w6200 instead.

Since we have all these printers in-house and in use we know them inside out. FLAAR is the only test facility at a university with 20 different printers. As a result we have become the de facto source of reliable information.

When the printer manufacturer declines to send us a unit to test, we simply find the same printer in a photo lab or sign shop and interview the owner. They are usually more than happy to pour out their laments on the poor service, lack of friendly tech support, excessive times you have to purge costly ink to clear up banding defects.

If a printer manufacturer sends their printers only to reviewers who write reviews that suck up to the manufacturer, that kind of gooey pseudo-review is so obvious that it makes the printer look worse (in other words, if the manufacturer is afraid of a pithy review, this suggests something is really wrong with the printer).

The Epson 7600 fared much better with FLAAR reviewers, because the Epson 7600 includes improved features. However the new Canon w6200 will be the first serious competition, since the Canon is substantially faster and ink costs less also.

Last updated July 3, 2003.
First posted Feb. 21, 2002, Updated June 3, 2002.