Seiko ColorPainter H-104S ad Seiko H-74S reviews Print

Seiko II to drop out of
wide-format printers

NEWS, June 2015

Our discussion of Seiko ColorPainter printers is based on information available 2008-2010. Today, five or more years later, there have been many corporate changes in Seiko II.

The most recent change is that Seiko II seems to be in the process of turning its printer division over to OKI Data.

Already several months ago, Seiko ColorPainter printers began to be sold by Oce and/or Canon. So clearly things are changing, suggesting that by itself sales were deemed not strong enough to continue just by itself. Would be interesting to learn when sales dropped to the point that corporate managers realized they had to take drastic steps.

Due to all these changes, and especially due to the problems with Seiko H-74s printers mentioned on the Internet, especially in Australia, we would suggest that if you are considering a new or used Seiko H-74s, you be aware of the new corporate alliances. Who in the future will be available to provide service? (Not on paper, but out in the real world). And will they have the experience of original Seiko service engineers?

As with any and every brand, it is not advised to purchase a printer (or ink or substrate) unless you have spoken with print shop owners who have been using the model for at least six months.

Buying a used printer from a company which is changing corporate ownership is always a special situation.

Japanese printer engineering tends to be quite good. And Seiko II has several innovative products, such as the ink which glows under fluorescent light.

But if you look at any printer brand which has either switched corporate ownership, you can notice that shifting ownership to a totally new company has its own history. We discuss all of this in a separate special TRENDs level FLAAR Report on solvent printers at FESPA 2015. You can order this report by writing FrontDesk "at" and ask to be invoiced.

Although I do not have a MBA degree in business, I do have plenty of years experience in the ups and downs of ink brands, printer brands, and technology evolution. It is very consistent what factors cause a brand to lose sales, and what changes in corporate structure cause a brand literally to cease being realistic out in the real world. PR releases, "good intentions," and all other best wishes do not save a brand or a corporation (PR releases are the most misleading of all, because they always pretend everything is going great).

Note: everyone in the world calls the printers "Seiko." Seiko itself calls itself SIIT or SII, which is (sorry) not good branding. Seiko by itself is not only adequate, it makes better sounding word than SIIT, and Seiko is more meaningful than the letters SII all alone. But every company has the right to name themselves however they wish, but 90% of the people in the printer industry worldwide calls it just simply Seiko: plenty good enough just like that.

A brand name should not simultaneously attempt to showcase an entire corporate structure.

We hope that despite all the basic factors that allow any person in the industry to see the future, we hope that the ColorPainter printers continue. But unless there are new models, significant new models, with significantly more innovative inks, sales will continue in precisely the same downward pattern which is what rather obviously has led to moving Seiko first to Oce/Canon and now to OKI Data.

At DRUPA 2008 Seiko introduced a solvent printer, the Seiko ColorPainter H-104S. It is unclear whether this is a beta unit, an alpha unit, or a prototype. The Seiko stand at DRUPA also exhibits their Seiko ColorTextiler 64DS. By the time of SGIA (October 2008), the Seiko ColorPainter H-74S should be visible as well.

Four years ago Seiko had the fastest selling solvent printer in the 64" to 104" range: the Seiko ColorPainter 64S. This was so popular that HP bought the rights to sell it and rebranded the Seiko printers as the HP Designjet 9000s and HP 10000s. Subsequently another Seiko-made printer appeared, the HP 8000s. But these are four years old; the newer Seiko ColorPainter H74S and H104S are newer, better, faster; and are not being sold by Hewlett-Packard.

The Seiko ColorPainter H 104s offers eight different colors or dual CMYK. The H 104s uses new Seiko printheads that are rated for speed. Speed and bright highly staturated colors are the Holy Grail. If this printer can beat the Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, and HP solvent printers, it will be a major coup for the Seiko Japan and Seiko US teams.

As with most solvent printers, this prints well on PVC, banner, flex, papers, and fabrics. Naturally vehicle wrap is another popular application for a printer that has bright colors with punch.

Seiko ColorPainter H 104S compared with alternatives

Now, in 2008, HP has decided to produce its alternative ink, latex ink. For the new latex ink HP has introduced its own printer, the HP Designjet L65500. HP has unleashed millions of dollars in funding to promote its new latex ink chemistry and the HP L65500 printer as an alternative to solvent ink. Already prior to DRUPA I was taken to a beta test site in Europe for the HP L65500 as well as on a separate trip taken to Israel for a general introduction to the latex ink technology. There is already a FLAAR Report introducing the latex ink. Updates on the latex ink and an evaluation of the HP Designjet L65500 are in preparation.

Epson has recently launched its Stylus Pro GS6000 a solvent printer that many people say is actually manufactured by Mutoh.

Roland already has its AJ-1000, with an earlier generation Seiko printhead. There is already a FLAAR Report on this Roland printer.

Mutoh has their Rockhopper 3 Extreme and Spitfire Extreme, both with Intelligent Interweaving. FLAAR already has reports on all three.

No FLAAR Report is available on the Seiko ColorPainter H 74S or H 104s because it has not been available for a detailed inspection in a demo room, in part because the H-104S at DRUPA was a prototype model. When the beta version is available, we would consider doing a detailed report. The Seiko ColorPainter 64S was our favorite printer in its heyday. Thousands of printshop owners downloaded the FLAAR Reports on the Seiko ColorPainter 64S, so we look forward to doing comparable ealuations on the new ColorPainter H104s.

But today, in 2008, there is more competition, so our FLAAR Reports need to be more comprehensive, which requires out dedicating more time to study each model solvent printer. This is a polite way of saying that we don't always have time or funding to handle each and every printer. So for the moment there is no in-depth FLAAR Report on either the H 74S or the H 104S.

Seiko ColorPainter H-104S printer reviews
The Seiko ColorPainter H-104S, a new mild-solvent printer.

The Seiko ColorPainter H-104S printer evaluations
Nicholas Hellmuth analyzing the ColorPainter H-104s printer at SGIA 2008.


Most recently updated June 12, 2015.

Previously updated September 9, 2008.

First posted May 29, 2008.