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BESTColor proofing RIP for Epson, Roland, HP, Encad Print E-mail

Overall, from speaking with various people in the large format printing industry, I got the impression that BEST software RIP was highly regarded for its color management capabilities. This may be one of several reasons why EFI purchased BEST in mid-December 2002.

BestColor RIP software booth  Raster Image Processor PostScript
It helps when a company has a presence at tradeshows. That way you can see the people behind the product.

FLAAR is primarily a Macintosh studio, so it will be a while before we can test a PC-based software RIP since it is BEST is primarily a PC oriented RIP. Their Mac product is a lite version. Thus for us to test a software RIP we have to load it into a Pentium PC running Windows NT server software. If, like us you are primarily Mac oriented design graphics studio, PosterJet and several other RIPs such as CADlink Photoscript work directly with a Mac. These are full-featured RIPs, not lite. To learn about all this, peruse our page PostScript RIP in detail.

BEST is an option to consider for any professional commercial situation where high-tech color proofing is needed. This RIP is definitely Made in Germany and assumes you have a spectrophotometer, separate additional ICC color profiling software, and that you understand color management workflow and jargon. You will probably need to take a training course as well.

BEST differs from several of the other software RIPs from England and Europe. Some of the other companies such as Shiraz have no distributor, no office, and hence no technical help support line for assistance in the USA. BEST, PosterJet is among the few European RIP companies with offices in the USA: you can get PosterJet from Scarab Graphics, for example. Several other nice RIPs from England and Germany lack US distributors which means technical assistance is limited in America. However the companies which do have offices in the USA provide excellent technical help. I have met the BESTColor technicians personally at the tradeshows. They know color management inside out.

What direction will BEST go under ownership by Electronics for Imaging?

Let us hope BEST continues offering tech support after the sudden buy out by EFI (Electronics for Imaging). EFI has the policy of itself not providing tech support whatsoever; EFI tells you that tech support must come from the printer manufacturer or reseller who sold the printer which was bundled with the EFI Fiery RIP. Fortunately older Fiery RIPs were rather simple and basic and thus not much could go wrong.

Trouble is that printer sales reps don’t necessarily know the insides of a complex proofing RIP. That is why we recommend avoiding places that just sell a box; what is more intelligent is to select a place where they actually use RIPs, inks, canvas, photobase paper, and printers in-house. Hence we recommend Parrot Digigraphic because they have actual experience with BEST and many other RIPs. You indicate what you need a RIP for, and they can select which brand would suit your needs and applications.

Until the next product update cycle, it is tough to know if the EFI policy of locking each RIP with one sole printer will prevail now that EFI owns BEST. The EFI policy resulted in zero upgrade path (once you bought an EFI RIP you had to buy an entire extra additional RIP if you junked your old obsolete printer). We will test the upgrade path several months from now to see if upgrades are still available with BEST.

At Print '01 we saw many new proofing RIPs such as ProofMaster from PerfectProof. At other tradeshows we learned about ErgoSoft. Therefore FLAAR is currently evaluating several other proofing RIPs at Bowling Green State University, including ProofMaster, CGS O.R.I.S. and others. If you need more detailed tips, help, check out FLAAR Premium Report Series on RIPs. Just realize that our RIP evaluations date primarily from 2002-2005.

The RIP software scene has changed a great deal in the last few years. Today, in 2007, Wasatch, Caldera, and Onyx continue being prominent, though we would add AIT Shiraz as one of our favorites as well. Each RIP software has a completely different personality and philosophy. So it's not just comparing feature sets.

While doing research on RIPs over the New Year’s holidays, we noticed a new proofing RIP from Global Graphics, for Canon printers. We mention this on our sister site, www.wide-format-printers.org.

Which RIPs are used by FLAAR to run our nine wide format printers? We have used PosterJet when we seek speed and ease of use. We tend to also use Wasatch because it handles such a wide range of printers. ErgoSoft has attracted our attention, both for its color management capabilities. The university has just finished a comparative evaluation of Wasatch and Scanvec-Amiable. Results are available in the new titles within the RIP series of FLAAR Reports, available from July 1st, 2003 onward.

Upcoming test of RIP inkjet dot pattern with QEA image analysis instrumentation

FLAAR will be testing various RIPs to see how they handle dithering pattern on the Epson printers. End users have suggested that whereas a RIP, such as BEST, may do well for proofing, that does not automatically mean it can produce a dot pattern as good as that of Epson with no RIP whatsoever (Epson with its native drivers), or Epson with another RIP. Several end users have suggested that other RIPs, potentially ErgoSoft, does especially well in producing an attractive ditherng pattern for photographs and giclee printers. So we have just acquired a QEA image analysis instrument to measure dot pattern and line quality. It will be a while before our crew has results, but in the meantime, be alert to all the ramifications of a RIP. It may alter the native dithering pattern of a printer... for the better, or for the worse.

 

Last updated May 7, 2007.
Previously updated: June 25, 2003, May 12, 2003, Jan 3, 2003; Dec. 2, 2002, Oct. 20, 2001, Mar. 14, 2002, Nov. 21, 2002.

 
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