Benchmarking, measuring and the meaning of data
What do you think?
POST A COMMENT
By Laurel Brunner
14 May 2012
The colour gamut of the HP Scitex FB7500 has been independently confirmed as 376,000 different colours. The HP Scitex FB7600 [pictured] has a larger colour gamut, but it has not yet been independently measured
We've been staggering around the halls of drupa for what seems a lifetime. Going back to normal office life will be a cultural shock. The agony of yet another hall (there are 17 altogether and the show lasts 14 days) is mitigated only by the exciting stuff we are coming across. And even though drupa has traditionally been a show for commercial and newspaper presses, there are plenty of new wide-format engines.
But here's the thing, we keep hearing about improvements in new engines that are very difficult to put into a meaningful context, apart from price of course. Vendors glory in describing what makes their new machine better than that of the competitors down the aisle, but there is no real data to back up most of their claims. Faster, for instance. Well, faster than what? The competitors' engines, the previous model, Greek debt defaults? Vendors bang on about new engines being more environmentally friendly as well. Except that yet again they don't quantify it and are even more vague. We asked one manufacturer what they meant by an 'eco-friendly' workflow and engine. We were told that this product's sheer efficiency makes it more environmentally friendly. Vintage greenwash or what?
Our industry is in a state of perpetual chaos, buffeted by competing communications channels and in many sectors plagued by self-doubt and anxiety. Things are not so bad in the sign and display market which is a lot more buoyant than the commercial printing sector. But in both there is a lack of real data when it comes to measuring engine speed, performance, colour gamut and resolution. For instance, companies still use relative terms instead of objective evaluations and measurements. And those relative terms are rarely put into a specific context. We still don't use any common data reference points, so it is very difficult for buyers to know what they are really comparing.
In fact even with more data, true comparisons of wide-format engines are extremely difficult to make. The best we can hope for is some sort of common framework of comparison within which data can be objectively evaluated. This takes effort and commitment and naturally that means money and probably working with external consultants. However if you are planning to shell out a six-digit figure on a new wide-format digital colour printer, taking the time to get some objective testing done is probably worth it.
Comments in chronological order (Total 0 comments)
There are no comments yet for this article.