Price When Reviewed: 420 . 630
EFI’s Designer Edition RIP is popular with many design companies, because it produces accurate colour proofs when used in conjunction with relatively low-cost inkjet printers.
Version 3.0 of Designer Edition was only released towards the end of 2003, so unsurprisingly version 4.0 doesn’t represent a major upgrade. However, there are a few updated features, such as support for Hewlett-Packard’s CMYKplus colour standard, and the JDF 1.2 standard for job ticketing.
Of course, support for a number of recently released printers has been added, such as the HP Designjet 30 and 130 series and Epson’s Stylus Pro 4000 range. As before, there are two versions of Designer Edition. The M Edition (£420 plus VAT) supports printers up to A3, while the more expensive XL Edition (£630 plus VAT) goes up to A1 sizes.
The most important change is the fact that Designer Edition 4.0 is now fully Windows-compatible. It was possible for PC users to print via Designer Edition in the past, but this required a Mac to set up the program so that it acted as a kind of AppleTalk printer.
Now, though, the four modular applications that make up the full Designer Edition package are all Windows-compatible, so PC users can configure the software themselves rather than having to set it all up with a Mac. The main Designer Edition module is used to configure your printer and to manage print jobs. The Preferences panel allows you to adjust eight separate groups of controls, such as output quality, nesting, and colour separations.
Ink for yourself
The other modules are the Color Editor, Ink Assistant and Profile Connector. The Color Editor is a utility that allows you to enter information about any spot colours used in your jobs so your printer can properly handle them. The Ink Assistant is a calibration tool that can be used to ensure consistent colour output from your printer over long periods.
It’s pretty complicated, though, and probably only suitable for experienced users with a good understanding of colour science. The same is true of the Profile Connector, which allows you to create custom paper profiles.
With no cheap upgrade path available, owners of the current Mac version don’t really need to rush out and buy this latest version unless there’s a specific feature – such as support for a new printer – that they really need. However, making the software Windows-compatible obviously opens up a whole new market, so Designer Edition 4.0 can be recommended to PC-based designers who are looking for a high-quality in-house proofing solution.
M Canon Bubble Jet i9100/S900/S900, W2200; Epson Stylus Colour 1520/3000, Stylus Photo 780/790/890/1280/1290/2000P/2100/2200, Stylus Pro 5000/5500; HP Designjet 10PS/20PS/50PS/30
XL all above models plus Agfa Sherpa 24, Canon W7250, Epson Stylus Pro 4000/7000/7500/7600, HP Designjet 120/130/800