Choose the i1DisplayProPlus package for display calibration only, or the i1PublishPro3 package with RGB and CMYK printer profiling as well. I encourage all my clients to get a package and do their own display calibration as needed. Please note the i1PublishPro3 should be available shortly.

Alternatively, the Onsight remote profiling service is a cost effective way to get excellent printer profiles for those that simply need a few printer profiles every now and then. Email to find out more about the remote profiling service (for clients only).

The recently re-introduced 2019 LG UltraFine 5K display is the high end 5K display that, IMO, makes sense for most demanding users with a video card capable of supporting 5K. Multicoated, anti-reflective glossy surface, 5120×2880 pixel native resolution, ~$999. I own two of these myself that I use with a MacBookPro.

The LG Ultrafine 4K Monitor is a huge 32″ matte display that connects via HDMI or Thunderbolt3. 3840 x 2160 pixel native resolution, ~$1097.

The Acer G257HU 25-Inch WQHD Monitor has a slim metal enclosure, 2560×1440 pixel native resolution, matte surface, DVI and HDMI input. Wide viewing angle and looks great when calibrated. For ~$229 it’s a great option for RIP workstations and secondary computers.

OWC’s ThunderBay RAID products are the best bang-for-the-buck RAID enclosures these days.  The $479 4 bay enclosure and $649 6 bay enclosure come without drives. Purchasing drives serpately and installing them yourself is easy and usually more cost effective than purchasing with preinstalled drives. Both of these drive enclosures come with two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports and are preconfigured for RAID5 and include SoftRAID v5 software. See my 2019 RAID review for real world performance results and comparisons to other systems.

Seagate IronWolf Internal Hard Drives for NAS/RAID are a great value right now. Available in capacities from 1 to 16 TB each, they are a great value at ~$0.026 per gigabyte. As someone who is sensitive to noise, I can tell you these drives are not only a good value, they are also super quiet.

For those that don’t need a RAID, the $40 Vantec NexStar Gx Enclosure is excellent because it has an aluminum case, USB-C ports and supports USB 3.1 gen2 data speeds (as opposed to the more common and slower USB 3.0).  Seagate EXOS hard drives are great for single drive enclosures like this because they are affordable, fast and have low failure rates. With todays 16+TB drives, some people don’t need a RAID anymore.

On a related note, I’ve always found that sharing a directly attached drive (DAS) to a network from an old computer performs better than a network attached drive (NAS) like those from Synology, Drobo and others. So an old computer (like a mac mini) with a fast RAID drive shared over a 10GbE network is a pretty decent, low-cost collusion for small workgroups. xSAN would be the high end solution for those with the budget to match.

OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet Adapter, when used with CAT 6a (or CAT 7) cabling and a 10GbE switch, allows for much faster networking than standard Ethernet ports allow for. Please note, this is just one of many 10 GbE adapters. If your computer doesn’t have Thunderbolt3, choose the appropriate adapter for the port options it has. 10Gb Ethernet is worth considering for small workgroups looking for a relatively inexpensive way to speed up their network.

In my opinion, Epson (and others) made a big mistake not including the ink tank stirring mechanism in all ink tanks. Dyesub color inks settle  and this settling is common cause of print quality inconsistency.  I recommend using these conveniently color coded CMYK turkey basters to mix up all four inks on a weekly basis. Stirring the inks once weekly is an affordable prevention method that will ensure print quality consistency over time. 

Maxiflex 34-874 Ultimate Nitrile Grip gloves are a favorite in the dyesub community for their incredibly comfortable fit. They only offer minor heat protection however, so quick handling of hot products is required. Consider the Ansell gloves for extended handling of hot dyesub products. 

Most heat resistant gloves are bulky, heavy and not fun to wear. Ansell Crusader Flex Heat Resistant gloves are the most comfortable, lightest weight “oven mitt” gloves I’ve seen, and they’re nice to handle hot dyesub products with. These are also popular in metal fabrication shops and in commercial kitchens as oven mitts.

ImageNest is fantastic nesting and layout software now priced at $200 for all printer sizes. If you are a nesting or a volume printing geek – this is your application! MacOS  only.

Epson Proofing Paper White Semimatte is the proofing paper I recommend the most often. It’s available in rolls from 13″ to 60″ wide and in 13×19″ sheets. Setting up in-house proofing systems in design agencies and relying less on print vendor proofs is the growing trend. Email me if you’d like to setup SWOP and/or GRACoL certifiable proofing systems in your environment.

A client recently hired me to evaluate all the letter sized desktop color laser printers on the market from the likes of Canon, HP, Xerox, Brother, Lexmart, OKI, etc.  I was quite surprised that a) the print quality was atrocious on almost all of them, b) most don’t support color management with ICC profiles and c) HP’s Color Laserjet Pro’s were the clear and obvious print quality winners.  One can make great RGB printer profiles for them using the printer driver with the default settings. While there are many to choose from, we found the HP Laserjet Pro 477fdw to be an excellent choice.

For those that are wanting an energy efficient bulb for print exhibition, the Philips Par20 Classic Glass Flood LED Bulbs stand out as an excellent option for screw-in E26 fixtures. Like an incandescent flood light, it has a narrow focus that puts a nice warm hot spot on your print on the wall, but does so at a fraction of the energy usage. 3000K, 500 lumens, 7 watts (50-60 watt equivalent). This six pack works out to $6.33 each. Also available in larger sizes…

Water-resistant and fade-resistant. Dries quickly. Acid-free and non-toxic. Ditch your Sharpies (which are not archival) and start using one of these. I’m particularly fond of the Micron 005 Ink Pen, Black for signing prints – it works great on microporous inkjet surfaces that pencils don’t work on.

Imatest will allow you to measure the performance of cameras, lenses, scanners, and printers. Imatest scientifically quantifies things like lens and camera sharpness, chromatic aberration, color response, noise, dynamic range, etc. Windows only.

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