Hello, this is Andrew Tribute of WhatTheyThink.com.  One of the most interesting things I think has been the announcement from EFI and Heidelberg that Heidelberg in North America will distribute a range of EFI wide format products.  Now, these are mainly the flatbed area, but it’s interesting that I think this is an announcement… this should have happened years ago that it’s been quite surprising how one of the big growth markets in the printing industry has been the wide format market, and has been that way for many years.  And yet, very few of the traditional graphic arts companies with big distributions channels have been in that market.
We’ve had Fuji Film, but when you look at the offset players, we haven’t seen any of the big players like Heidelberg, Kamori, KBA, Man Rolland, and others playing in this marketplace and yet they have the channels to market that should be handling such products.  So I think that this is a very interesting agreement to see Heidelberg getting into this market and it’s another area of digital.
One of the items It got in my postbag this week I found most interesting was a set of prints sent to me by an old friend, Andy Cave of Hamilroad Software.  Now, many of you may know Andy, he was one of the first developers of Postscript and was the Chief Software architect for Harlequin when they entered the postscript market.  And he’s been developing specialized postscript PDF, etc. for many, many years.  But for the last few years, he’s been concentrating on developing new screen algorithms to make color screening simpler and higher quality.  Now, you may well say, well we don’t need any more screening algorithms, we’ve got excellent analog screening, FM screening and hybrid screening and mixing the two together.  However, what I’m seeing from this with Auraia II screening algorithms is the quality of screening that you need to go to the very, very highest quality of FM screening that can be achieved on ordinary presses in ordinary conditions and running the equivalent of 175 line screening.  You see, with 175 on equivalent screening, you’re getting the equivalent of almost a 10 micron FM screening.
I’ve got two of the prints here that were produced using a standard testing program and here you see a typical test sample.  Now, this was made up of a mixture of half tones and tints.  And what is interesting is, when you look at the tints, they are so smooth there is absolutely no banding, no screening visible in it.  And they look like solid tints, like solid flat colors.  And this particularly applies, not so much in the coated material, when you look at this on uncoated material, this where it looks really interesting because you put this under a loop, you cannot see the screening in most of it.  It is just like a solid flat tint.  I’m very impressed with this.  I didn’t think I would be when I heard of this initially, but I think this is very interesting.
Now, the negative of this is, you could only get this on Harlequin Global Graphics RIPs and at the moment ECI is offering it, many other companies I believe will be offering this that use the Global Graphics RIP technology.  And what we’re seeing is, Andy tells me there’s further developments to come and if you want to get the absolutely ultimate and you’re running on the best sort of thermal machines with very, very controlled dot structures that you will get something that is absolutely in excess of anything that we’ve seen so far.
What am I doing next?  Well, basically next week is a traveling week.  On Monday, Tuesday I’m down in Germany.  I’m going to see Oce.  Oce is doing its European launch of its new ColorStream 3500 printer and I’m getting the opportunity to go talk to some of the key Oce staff.  And then I’m flying across the States to go to the Kodak annual analyst’s event.  This is tough, they’re holding this in San Diego linked up to a golf tournament in which Kodak is one of the sponsors and we analysts, we have a tough time, we have to go to these sort of places, however, I would say, thank you Kodak for doing this in San Diego instead of making me go to cold old Rochester in mid-Winter, so it’s going to be a tough time.
But anyway, this is Andy Tribute of WhatTheyThink.