It’s always hard for us to focus on real products and their attributes while walking the aisles of a trade show such as Print 05. There are so many booths, with so many acquaintances, with so many demonstrations screaming at you, and all fighting for your attention. Others will go about their “best of the show,” and other analyses about the meaning of what was presented at the official press conferences will occur.

For THE EAGLE, the product/company/concept that caught our eye was at the very end of the Wide Format Pavilion. This was a truly entrepreneurial offering involving not only the consolidation (or integration) of products, but the collaboration of related companies, a business model eminently suited to the "new" graphic arts industry.

We’ll come back to this offering in the 2 nd part of this article. First, we offer a few comments about Print 05, the printing world's main event of the year. It appeared that Print was divided into three generic areas. The traditional area with booths from Xerox to Heidelberg seemed to represent the more traditional aspects of Old Print, both offset and high speed digital – the printing of pages. It was interesting that Xerox’ booth seemed to be larger than Heidelberg. Not much else about this area cried out to us, except what has been noted by others, that is, digital printing is now seen as just printing. No more wonder and awe at non-offset print. Indeed, we heard that several of Xerox' top line presses, Igens, were sold from the booth of its distributor, Enovation - without Xerox's help. This is a sign of real change when a customer feels confident to make this large a purchase from a "third party."

Downstairs was a conglomeration of more traditional finishing and smaller mechanical products. Like the "Old Print" area, it also didn’t seem so busy. What caught our eye here was the size and energy level of the HP booth. HP had every possible kind of Indigo press in full operation with workflow feeding it and finishing following it. We really like HP’s concept of showing it like it should be in the customer’s plant. Unlike what Heidelberg used to present, here at HP equal weight was given to partners who supplied the “finishing touches,” alongside the HP equipment.

Finally, getting back to the Wide format Pavilion, this is where most of the crowds and the attention seemed to be. Here, too, there was some synergy between products, but mostly single companies showing their wares. Big digital flatbed and roll fed “presses” were dominant, and the lack of Durst as an Exhibitor had some concerned. But, in the end, there was something interesting or new for everyone.

As mentioned, for THE EAGLE, the most interesting booth was at the very end of almost the last row of the Wide Format Pavilion. The company was Chuckwalla – and its partners. We had known about them for a number of years, but were never quite sure what they really did, other than that they had some impressive customers and that they were a provider of enterprise digital asset management (DAM) technology. This year, through a partnership with other companies, they showed how multiple technologies and products could come together into one new product - building a solution, rather than a single product - and we finally could see real value to the print enterprise. We’ll report more on that in Part 2 of this article.