Keypoint Intelligence’s New Look at Wide Format Signage

Our Field Test Reports separate fact from fiction

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03/21/2022

Priya Gohil

 

Over the coming months, there will be a slew of Keypoint Intelligence eco-solvent, resin, and latex wide format field test evaluations published in a refreshed design (not just on paper, but also online). As with 2021’s bliQ Pro, the new bliQ WF evaluations will utilize additional test data and analysis, mapping out multiple devices side by side. Subscribers can compare numerous devices’ productivity, image quality test data, and our key findings in an easy-to-view grid format.

 

Over the coming months, you will be able to read our in-depth analysis covering:

  • Mimaki’s JV100 and JV300 series devices (yes, we have already started a conversation with Mimaki about testing their innovative new CJV/JV 330 series)
  • Epson’s new resin technology in its R5000 series that goes toe-to-toe with latex
  • Ricoh’s gamut expansion option for its BLI Pick Award-winning L5160e series
  • Stratojet’s cost-aggressive entry-level Hawk series
  • Mutoh’s exciting new XpertJet series

The Epson SureColor SC-S60600L being tested at the manufacturer’s facility
in the UK.

 

By reading about our hands-on testing, you’ll get the real story behind how well these devices perform and you will stop guessing how much of the marketing brochure is based in reality and how much is lip service.

 

For example, brochures quote incredibly fast speed performances that sound terrific on paper. But this is typically achieved at very, very low-pass rates. So, it may produce output quality that could pass as okay if mounted halfway up a skyscraper, but it would not be acceptable on your boardroom wall or for promoting your best buys in a shopfront window.

 

With our reports, you can compare true speeds based on acceptable quality at set viewing distances (10 feet for monomeric vinyl and 2 feet for cast vinyl). Some devices don’t pass our acceptable quality criteria at the fastest 2-3 pass rate speed options—we call this our “most productive” speed rating.

 

Field testing the Ricoh Pro L5160e at the vendor’s UK Customer Experience
Centre.

 

Likewise, vendors will talk about super high-resolution output, and these higher resolutions are going to have an impact on throughput speeds. Well, we score image quality across a wide range of criteria at the most productive speed rating and at the highest quality speed setting so that you can fairly judge quality and speed on a level playing field.

 

We also assess the usability and design of these devices—another challenge for many during the pandemic, as many had to rely on virtual demos to get a feel for what’s being offered.

 

We have seen some important device trends over the last year or two, including:

  • Most vendors now offer a homegrown RIP option in addition to the partnerships with the likes of Onyx, Caldera, and Sai. The reasons for this will differ from company to company, but the result is that the buyer is getting more options on how they can drive these devices than ever before.
  • Added focus on providing businesses with complete transparency over their production floor operation, with some vendors introducing new cloud-based utilities. These utilities typically offer detailed multi-device monitoring and diagnostic testing, utilization statistics, as well as job tracking and accounting functionality to help operators keep a tight rein over costs.
  • Ergonomically friendly design paves the way for smoother operability and increased output. Improved media loading, easy-to-replace consumables (including printheads on some presses), automatic nozzle check and recovery technology, along with visible alert lamps are just some of the notable features we have seen.
  • Control panel operation is a big differentiator, with some presses offering a color touchscreen and familiar smartphone slide-and-swipe navigation—great user experience to be sure.
  • The ability to program media presets at the control panel varies, too. Some printers offer a limited number of presets (some offer none), leaving jobs to be set up and controlled via the RIP only. One way to read into this is that it reduces the potential for settings to be changed ad-hoc by key operators working across shifts, and that it ensures consistency when running high-volume jobs. However, with some devices having up to 50 media presets, operators are afforded the flexibility to make instant changes at one place.

 

This is just a taste of what’s to come. Make sure you keep an eye out for the series of wide format signage reports on bliQ Wide Format.

 

Log in to bliQ to see specs, reports, and more on wide format devices. If you’re not a subscriber, just send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info.