Printers – Printer Articles

Printers – Printer Articles
Printers – Printer Articles February 7, 2004–Perfection, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder, yet there are certain characteristics that are universally accepted. The perfect inkjet photo paper must have the same look and feel of photo lab prints, image permanence that meets or exceeds those prints, compatibility with all inkjet printers and be price competitive with all other sources. Does the perfect inkjet photo paper exist and if so, does Kodak’s reformulation of its top-of-the-line photo paper earn that title? On January 29, 2004, Kodak officially announced the reformulation of its Ultima Picture Paper with COLORLAST technology, designed to ensure image permanence for 100 years using any current generation inkjet printer. The Ultima Picture paper uses the same base as Kodak Royal Photographic paper, so the look and feel matches typical photo lab results. Currently, Kodak offers its Ultima paper in a variety of packages, in ranges from 4×6 to 8.5×11 sizes. Additionally, the Ultima Picture Paper is fairly cost competitive with other premium inkjet photo papers on the market. The Kodak paper appears to meet most of the qualifications for the perfect inkjet photo paper. However, digging a little deeper reveals some issues Kodak may need to address. In a 20-page report on the Kodak website, the company outlines in explicit detail the testing measures to ensure image permanence and designated performance standards for the product to meet its goal. Several variables went into testing; not only was light fastness considered but also the affects of heat, humidity and ozone. Kodak says it has overcome all the obstacles for prints displayed in a variety of normal households – not just under glass in museum conditions. This means the photographs can be lying on coffee tables in climates as varied as London or Los Angeles. While the test results prove promising, it should be noted that the identified tests were conducted by Kodak scientists in Kodak labs for the most part; not the defacto industry standard for image permanence, Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. To date, Kodak has not released independent testing, from Wilhelm or others, to verify the 100-year claim for the Ultima Picture Paper. Certainly Kodak must anticipate that competitors will rush to commission independent testing to possibly refute the claims. In the end, consumers will be big winners even if the Ultima Picture Paper can live up to only half it’s claim – 50 years, which isn’t far short of silver halide prints. Cost competitiveness is also an issue. The chart below illustrates that the Kodak premium offering is priced fairly similar to other manufacturer’s premium photo papers. Kodak does promote its products frequently and its ‘buy one get one free deals’ are typically available. Unfortunately for Kodak, consumers have several other options for printing digital images. [Graphs and Images Available Upon Request On a cost-per-page basis the Ultima Picture Paper is fairly competitive with other inkjet photo papers; however consumers have cheaper, easier options for printing digital images. Online photo sites should not be discounted; Ofoto and Snapfish promise 4×6 prints for 29 cents and 25 cents respectively. Ofoto even publicizes its use of Kodak paper. In- store options, such as Walgreens and Eckerd’s allow customers to bring in digital media and walk out with prints an hour later for between 25 cents and 29 cents per print. Eckerd’s advertises the cost (of in-store printing) is less than half the cost of printing at home with no printer problems or hassles. Eckerd customers are promised “quality prints that last a lifetime.” Online photo sites and drug store options are even more attractive when you consider that the cost-per-page for the inkjet photo paper doesn’t include the often overlooked ink costs; Inkjet printer ink may well be the most costly liquid on earth. Some color photo inkjet cartridges use as much as 20 cents of ink to provide 15 percent coverage on a letter size document. That is basically a text document with a splash of color for a logo and a chart; imagine the cost for a “best quality” 4×6 photo! Despite other, possibly more attractive, options, consumers are buying more inkjet photo paper than ever. Inkjet printers are cheaper, easier and provide better quality output. For those users who want to print images at home, Kodak’s reformulated Ultima Picture Paper may be the perfect choice. Will Kodak’s Ultima paper make a major impact in market share for segment leaders such as HP and Epson? Possibly, if Kodak can educate consumers about the benefits of the COLORLAST technology; the company could make major inroads in gaining sales. The trick will be to encourage consumers to demand the image permanence promised by the Ultima paper and a well-developed creative advertising campaign. I can see it now, a grandmother in the year 2050 sharing a photo album with her grandchild. The first half of the album shows photos with dramatic color shifts, while the last half, after she started using Ultima paper, shows vibrant photos. Kodak -recently beleaguered by unhappy shareholders- must be able to muster their marketing and advertising strength to make the most of this opportunity. The next six months will tell if resources will be funneled into print, radio and even television spots. Kodak must take this narrow window of opportunity to make Ultima paper the paper of choice for printing quality digital images. It must convert loyal users of other brands quickly, because Epson scientists and HP scientists are most likely well on their way to a universal, archival photo paper similar to the Ultima.By: Patricia Lloyd ARS Print Media Industry Analyst This article courtesy of http://printerinfomart.com.You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.Submit
Your Article