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Appeared on: Friday, August 20, 2004
Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer


1. Introduction

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 1

Signature Z6 is Primera's sixth-generation CD/DVD printer. It introduces a host of new features, including:


- Six-color printing for true photo-quality output
- 4800 dpi print resolution
- 20% faster printing than its predecessor
- A new low price of just US$1495.00 (MSRP)

Advanced Six-Color Printing
Signature Z6 is the world's first professional CD/DVD printer to offer six-color inkjet printing. By adding light cyan and light magenta to CMYK, printed photos look more natural. Colors are brighter and more vibrant, while shades and gradations are more gradual and smooth. Combining six-color inks with 4800 DPI resolution delivers the world's best direct-to-disc printing available.

Signature Z6 includes Primera's PrimaColor™ and exclusive new Z-Color Color Matching Systems for the most accurate and precise control over the colors you create and print.

Large Ink Cartridges for a Low Cost Per Disc
Cost per disc is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a CD/DVD printer for high-volume, professional use. That's why Signature Z6 has large, 34 and 41ml ink cartridges filled at 100% for its color and black inks. This enables the cost per disc to be about half that of other printers sold in the professional market.

SureThing CD Labeler Primera Edition, a professional labeling software program, is also included for graphic design. Graphic designs from other software programs such as Adobe PhotoShop, CorelDRAW and Illustrator are quickly and easily imported into SureThing templates. Or, the user can print directly to Signature Z6 as a standard Windows printer.

Signature Z6 also includes a patented early-warning ink level monitoring system. It not only tells users what percentage of ink remains before a run of discs is started, but it also estimates how many actual discs can be printed based upon an "on-the-fly" analysis of ink usage.

Optional Hands-Free Disc Burning and Printing
For fully automated disc production, Signature Z6 interfaces with Primera's Composer XL, ComposerPro and ComposerMAX Optical Disc Duplicators. Combining a Signature Z6 and Composer-series duplicator enables automatic disc burning and printing for up to 400 discs per job.

"Signature Z6 sets a new standard in our industry for print speed, print quality and cost per disc," said Mark D. Strobel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Primera Technology. "At the same time, it is also one of the most affordable professional CD/DVD printers available."

Signature Z6 is priced at US$1495.00 (MSRP). It is currently shipping and can be purchased from Primera Technology's Authorized Resellers and Distributors in more than 85 countries.

Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer specifications:

Print Method:
Inkjet

Printing Resolutions:

4800 x 1200 dpi, 2400 x 1200 dpi, 1200 x 1200 dpi, or 600 x 600 dpi (driver selectable)

Ink Cartridges:

Color (#53321; cyan, magenta and yellow)
Photo (#53324; light cyan, light magenta and black)
Optional Black monochrome for high-speed four-color printing (#53319; cyan, magenta, yellow and black)

Colors:

16.7 million or black monochrome

Color Matching:

PrimaColor Color Matching Software (ICC complaint); also includes Primera's new Z-Color Color Matching Software for Photo Mode printing

Operating Systems:
Supplied with printer driver for Windows XP/2000

Data Interface:
USB 1.1/2.0

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium? III?computer or better, 64MB RAM, 500MB free hard drive space, available USB 1.1/2.0 port

Control Interface:

TTL-level signals for busy printing, tray open/close, etc., available on rear-panel 6-pin mini-DIN connector

Label Editing Software:
SureThing? CD Labeler Primera Edition Software for Windows XP/2000

Maximum Print Width:
4.72" (120mm)

Electrical Ratings:
12?VDC, 5.0A

Power Requirements:
100-240VAC, 50/60 Hz, 60 watts

Certifications:
UL, UL-C, CE, FCC Class B

Dimensions:
7.5"H x 17"W x 10.5"D (190mmH x 432mmW x 266mmD)

Weight:
9 lbs. (4.09 kg)

Warranty:
One Year

Supplied Package:
The package contains all the necessary stuff which someone would need in order to set up and start using the printer immediately. Analytically, there are the Z6 printer, USB cable, power supply with cables, 4 printable-surface media ( 2 white and two silver), quick start guide, the manual, warranty and the ink cartridges (color and photo).


2. Hardware Installation

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 2

Hardware Installation

For installing the Signature Z6 on your PC, you'll need the following included media:

The installation should start automatically when you insert the CD. If you have disabled Autorun, then you'll have to run the installation procedure manually from the disc. Open the CD and find and run autorun.exe.

In either case, the following window will appear. Choose "Quickstart Install".

Just make sure you follow the onscreen instuctions and hopefully, you should have no problems.

Make sure you remove the security strips before installing the ink cartridges.

After pressing the Finish button, SureThing CD Labeler will be installed.

Before completing the setup, you will be asked to restart you computer.


3. Software Setup

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 3

Software Setup

The first time you run SureThing Software, a wizard will help you to personalize the software. Just follow the onscreen instructions. You don't need to use the wizard to make the configurations, but we recommend you proceed with the wizard.


4. Software Preview

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 4

Software Preview

Each time you launch the program, you'll see the following window with information about the software.

Once the program has started, if you press the NEW button the following screen will open. This also happens automatically, the very first time you run the program.

The following is the central screen and is the one you are presented with everytime you open the program.

The buttons on the left and running vertically, are very helpful for inserting backgrounds, photos, text etc.

The software is very easy to use and there are no special or difficult features. If you spend a little time, you can learn it in no time. Hence we consider there is no need for further analysis here, but leave it up to the user to better acquaint him/herself with the software.


5. Printing Preferences

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 5

Printing Preferences

Below you can see the options available from the Printing Preferences dialog box for the printer.

From the following drop down menu you can set the diameter of the media you are about to use. There are three default sizes as well as custom where you can set your own. Custom sizes can be defined by clicking on the "Custom Page Size" button.

The orientation can also be defined.

 

There are five choices of quality ranging from Normal 600 up to Ultra Photo 4800.

 

Z-Color is the only color matching option. If you remove the Photo
cartridge and install a black cartridge in its place, then you can
change to other color matching options. Otherwise if you want to
continue using the photo cartridge, then the image will need some filters added or some colors adjusted in your image editing program. The other options are PrimaColor, Algebraic and None. If you are printing from SureThing, then PrimaColor is good. Otherwise, if you are using Photoshop or Corel Draw and you are printing an RGB image, then set the color matching to Algebraic.

If you have the Color and the Photo ink cartridges installed, the Color Matching is set by default to Z-Color. For setting to PrimaColor, which is the best for SureThing, you have to change to another option other than Color + Photo, for activating the field. Then set to Primacolor and change once again, this time back to Color + Photo.

You can also set which ink cartridges you will use.

 

If you haven't performed a cartridge alignment calibration, you can do it as follws:

After a test printout, look for the best results, which are the straightest lines, insert each number in the appropiate field and press OK. Below you can see what the test printout looks like. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Click to enlarge

For image centering, you have to print a test image, then rotate it 180° with the arrows pointing on the printer. Once again, a test printout sample is presented below. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Click to enlarge

Once again insert the correct numbers in each field and press OK.

From the choice in the "Options" dialog box (see below), you can change the ink cartridges, clean them and read a report. Just click on the Properties... button.

Here you get a report on the condition of the ink cartridge levels.

We recommend you clean the heads frequently, especially if the printer has been out of use for a long time.

By pressing the Details button the following window will appear.


6. Properties Menu - Other Options

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 6

Properties Menu - Other Options

- Properties Menu

Some advanced settings can be adjusted in this tab.

Under the Color Management tab option, if you click on the Add button (see below), you can select from a list the color profile to use.

- Other Options

Signature Z6 interfaces perfectly with Composer XL, ComposerPro, and ComposerMAX optical disc duplicators allowing for fully automated disc production.


7. Tests - Page 1

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 7

Tests - Page 1

 

Before proceeding with any printing, make sure you have calibrated the Signature Z6, from Printing Preferences.

We scanned our DVD movie cover in order to use it in our printing tests. The reference image we used was the following:

In all cases, we used the included software, SureThing CD Labeler and white printable-surface Taiyo Yuden media. The first print we made was with the default settings for the color matching software, i.e.Z-Color, since we had installed the color and the photo ink cartridges. The field for changing to another color match was disabled. So we proceeded...and this is what we got:

After searching and experimenting for a while, we found that if you change under Printing Preferences, the Ink Cartridge option to something else such as Color + Black, the Color Matching field is enabled, allowing you to adjust it. We set ours to Algebraic, with default settings, and printed another test image:

We tried to adjust the colors manually:

Finally we used PrimaColor which was the appropriate setting according to the manual. The test print confirmed this:

However, there were still major differences from our original DVD image, especially with colors and contrast. So we processed the reference image with Photoshop, making the appropriate settings (increased the contrast and color saturation), saved it as reference image 2 shown below:

We then printed this:

While the printed disc is not like reference image 2 saved from Photoshop, it is now very close to the original image from the original DVD. So for printing, what you need is a little effort, and some trial printing before in order to achieve acceptable results. Below we have some screen images and next to them how they printed.

Original Image
Printed Image

Here is also a printout on silver printable-surface Tuff-Coat media, where we again processed the image with Photoshop in order to make it look like the original:

The truth is that neither of the two media types, white or silver, help in the quality of printing in a way that can be compared with printing on photo paper.

Make sure not to wet the printed media surface since it is not waterproof and the results will be a complete disaster.


8. Tests - Page 2

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 8

Tests - Page 2

Theere are five supported qualities levels with the Signature Z6 printer, and the approximate printing times for each need for each quality level is presented below:

Quality
Printing Time (sec)
Normal 600
80
Best 600
120
Presentation 1200
160
Super Photo 2400
320
Ultra Photo 4800
570

Below you can see the difference beetween the lowest and highest printing quality. Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Normal 600
Ultra Photo 4800
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

We printed the above high resolution image in all the supported qualities. Clink on each image for an enlarger view.

Quality
Test
Normal 600
Click to enlarge
Best 600
Click to enlarge
Presentation 1200
Click to enlarge
Super Photo 2400
Click to enlarge
Ultra Photo 4800
Click to enlarge

Below are two other high resolution images, printed at the highest quality.


Reference Image

Click to enlarge
Printed Image

The red color was not too good.


Reference Image

Click to enlarge
Printed Image

After 40 prints, most of them at the highest quality, the ink levels were as follows:

According to Primera at 1200dpi you can do about 130 full disk prints per cartridge. They estimate around 200 full disks at 600dpi and about 90 at 2400dpi. This of course can vary depending on the image that is being printed. In addition, the colors in the graphic and cartridges your printing with (black, 6-color, 3-color, etc.) also effect cost-per-print. When printing 4800 dpi, 3-color on the Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer, you'll get 150-400 discs per cartridge, depending on the area of coverage on the disc's surface. For 4800 dpi, 6-color, you'll get 75-175. Also the black cartridge prints black text only and all black graphics are processed black.

The price for each ink cartridge, Color, Photo and Black is US $57.


9. Coclusion

Primera Signature Z6 CD/DVD Printer - Page 9

Coclusion

Primera's Signature Z6 ink jet printer is certainly one of the most reliable and high quality printers on the market. The supported printing resolution at 4800 dpi is pretty high and will fulfil the needs of most advanced users. It can be used for both professional and non-professional printing jobs. The supported resolutions allow the user to select which one is best for him/her with a trade-off in quality versus ink consumption.

The included software, SureThing CD Labeler is very simple and offers many printing options allowing the user to reach very good result even if he does not use the higher quality printable-surface media.

According to our tests, it takes a little effort to match the resulting printed media where the contrast and colors are weaker compared to the original image, and this is one of our complaints with the unit. If you can compensate for this shortcoming, you can achieve a close match that can look much like the original. Also, if you decide to print at 4800dpi, you must be patient since it needs approximately 9:30min. However, the result is worth it, as can been seen from our test samples.

The Signature Z6 is available from Primera's online store at the price of US$1495, which we confess is higher than we expected.



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