Adobe PressReady 1

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Promises to turn your budget inkjet into a colour-accurate Postscript Level 3 proofing device - but only if you're one of the lucky few.

Adobe PressReady 1

Adobe Postscript is the page description language that underpins the  publishing industry and powers most high-end output devices so it's hardly  surprising that Adobe charges a premium for manufacturers to license it.  As a result Postscript-based printers, and especially Postscript colour  printers, have always traditionally cost far more than non-Postscript  devices. However there is a way to provide both the power and the value -  Postscript emulation. For many years packages such as Zenographics  SuperPrint have offered software-based Postscript emulation to turn  everyday inkjets into advanced colour Postscript devices at a fraction of  the price. With PressReady, Adobe itself is now doing the same.

However things have changed a lot since SuperPrint's heyday. At one time Postscript was the only way to be able to output such fundamentals as scalable fonts; nowadays all printers can. Admittedly, PressReady's advanced Postscript Level 3 support does promise further benefits, such as smoother grayscales and gradients, but these only come into their own with higher resolution devices. As such, if what you are looking for is maximum impact desktop print, then PressReady isn't really going to help. In fact PressReady isn't designed to improve output quality so much as colour accuracy. PressReady has one simple aim: to ensure that the proofs you produce on your desktop printer are as accurate a reflection of your final commercially produced print as possible.

PressReady isn't an application in its own right then, but rather a behind-the-scenes print-based solution. After installation, you'll find three main new components on your system: a PressReady version of your existing inkjet printer driver, a new Adobe Print Colour control panel and a new Create Adobe PDF command. The main difference in terms of the Adobe version of the printer driver is that it has been fully colour calibrated to ICC (International Colour Consortium) standards. In other words the printer driver fully understands the colour space the printer is capable of producing. In fact the PressReady driver provides customised ICC profiles representing the colour spaces of each of the main combinations of ink, paper type and quality modes that the printer offers.

Adobe PressReady 1

The PressReady printer driver contains separate ICC profiles for different ink and paper setups.

Controlling the colour that your inkjet printer is able to produce is only one side of the equation. PressReady is all about accurately simulating your final commercial print and that is produced in an entirely different CMYK-based colour space. The solution is straightforward - PressReady also includes ICC profiles for the most common press standards, such as SWOP and Euroscale, together with profiles customised for output on coated and uncoated paper. All you have to do is open the Adobe Print Colour control panel and choose the press colour space you want your inkjet to simulate. While you are doing that you can also set a default source space for any RGB objects in your layout so that, for example, colour photos that haven't already been converted to CMYK will be treated correctly.

With all the source and destination colour space information it needs, PressReady can now automatically map between the different ICC profiles. So how does the system perform in practice? The good news is that there is surprisingly little overhead in writing and processing the Postscript output. The apparent bad news is that the final results are likely to be a disappointment. Compared to an inkjet's normal vivid print, the PressReady colours seem very subdued and matt, especially if you have chosen to emulate output on uncoated paper. In fact, of course, that is the whole point. What you are wanting to see is an accurate reflection of what your final print run will look like, not how saturated and eye-catching your inkjet can make its colours.

In terms of printer-based proofing that's all there is to PressReady. Once you've installed your driver and chosen your press settings, it's as simple as hitting your application's Print command. These days, however, digital workflows are becoming the norm and it's often not practical to have to circulate paper-based proofs. PressReady recognises this and offers a solution based on Adobe's own Acrobat technology. Select the new Create Adobe PDF option from your list of installed printers and you'll be able to produce a colour-corrected electronic version of your file ready for proofing. To be able to check the exact colours, the end user will still need to print off the file with exactly the same PressReady setup as you, but the onscreen colours will be much nearer to those in the final print-run in any case.

Adobe PressReady PDF controls

The Create Adobe PDF option enables you to produce colour-corrected Acrobat files, for example, to simulate final output on uncoated paper.

PressReady certainly isn't the right program for the vast majority of users who are only producing print in-house. For those users who need to know how their designs are going to look when they're commercially printed, however, it's invaluable. Sadly, there are two caveats. The first is that no system can ever be completely colour accurate so Adobe still recommends getting a final Matchprint produced at the press for complete peace of mind. The second is more serious. Unless you happen to use one of the paltry selection of eight inkjets that PressReady supported at its launch, you're out of luck. You can either check the Adobe Web site to see if Adobe has extended its support, or you can look on enviously.

Then again, if you've ever been surprised by the colours in a final print run, you might well think that it's worth buying a supported printer just so that you can run PressReady.

Tom Arah

Features

5

Ease Of Use  

5

Value For Money  

6

Overall  

5

ratings out of 6

Tom Arah

December 1999


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