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Ilford Galerie Ink-Jet Paper and eMachines’ T4155 Windows XP computer.

It’s all about the paper: Ilford Galerie Ink-Jet Paper

Ilford’s Galerie inkjet papers are available in Classic Pearl, Smooth Pearl, Classic Gloss, and Smooth Gloss versions. The Classic papers are resin-coated with a traditional ink-jet receiving layer that provides a “real” photographic look and feel. The nanoporous (nanoceramic) technology used in the Smooth papers produces dry output that can be handled immediately after printing, making them ideal for comps and other quick production projects. The Pearl papers have Ilford’s signature pearl surface to prevent glare and minimize finger marks.

Ilford includes suggested driver settings for many different printers inside each pack, and you can find current recommendations at its Web site. With any new paper, I first make a test print using Vivid Details’ Photoshop-compatible Test Strip plug-in. Test Strip output shows how much lighter or darker the new media will print than your standard paper and, if there’s any color shift, how to correct it. Ilford’s driver recommendation for using Smooth Pearl with the Epson Stylus Photo 820 is Photo Quality Gloss Film with resolutions from 720dpi. A test print made at the recommended settings showed perfect density and color; portraits had a lushness that flattered the images. Tests with monochrome files showed an almost imperceptible magenta shift, not uncommon when printing black-and-white images with any color printer on any ink-jet paper. This file could be corrected using image editing techniques, but I chose to print the files at 2880dpi using black ink only, and the results were stunning.

One of the problems with using the recommended settings with Epson printers is that sometimes a particular setting may not permit borderless output. As a workaround, I tried settings for paper that I thought had similar characteristics, but it sometimes produced output that was slightly darker and bluer. When making borderless prints, Test Strip will help point you in the right direction; otherwise Ilford’s settings were spot-on for the two different Epson printers I tried.

I printed several different promotional cards on Galerie Smooth Gloss paper with an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, and image quality was excellent, with clear natural color and modest contrast. In fact, this is one of the best glossy papers I’ve used. I was also pleased with how bone-dry the prints were. You can stick the prints in an envelope or hand them directly to a client-no drying time required. When printing commercial images, I reach for Classic Gloss because it offers a true glossy surface that reminds me of Ilford’s own traditional darkroom papers. Prints have stability similar to real photographs, and will last up to 20 years when used with high-quality inks. The two nanoceramic papers should last 10 or more years depending on the inks used.

Ilford’s Galerie inkjet papers are compatible with Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Lexmark printers and are available in letter-size, 11-by-17, and 13-by-19-inch sizes. Like the original Galerie papers for traditional darkroom work, Ilford has created a series of ink-jet papers aimed at the discriminating image maker.

High quality, low price: eMachines’ T4155 Windows XP Computer.

eMachines has always been known for its value-based computers; new Windows XP models, such as the T1090, start at $399. Its top-of-the-line T4155 computer has an Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz processor, 256MB RAM, fax/modem, 12x CD-RW drive, 12x DVD drive, 60GB hard drive, and an Ethernet network card for DSL/cable Internet connectivity. Oh, yeah–it costs $799. There are lots of computers that cost less than $1,000, but if you compare the features this model offers, you’ll find it’s a bargain.

I connected a Samsung SynchMaster 570P Plus 15-inch flat-panel screen and turned it on. No message asked me to insert disks or find drivers; it just worked, and the on-screen display looked great. The same thing happened when I plugged an external Iomega Zip 250 drive into one of the two USB ports on the back. The drive appeared in the My Computer list and I was able to put it to work instantly. An Epson Stylus Color 900G printer plugged into the other USB port required a driver installation, but the XP interface painlessly guided me through the process. There are two additional USB ports on the front of the T4155 for connecting other devices. Microphone and headphone jacks are also located on the front panel.

The T4155 comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP and a bundle of software, including Microsoft Works 6, Money 2002, Encarta Online, as well as Adobe Acrobat reader and AOL 6. I tried to install EarthLink 5 to take advantage of the built-in 56K ITU v.92 fax/modem, but EarthLink’s software is not currently compatible with Windows XP. An EarthLink customer service person talked me through setting up access in five minutes, however. The combination of speedy modem, processor, and nVidia GeoForce 2 MX 200 video card make surfing the Web the best experience I’ve ever had with a dial-up connection.

The eMachines T4155 is an impressive, solidly built computer. Even little things like the tray for the 12X DVD drive seem sturdier than the material used on more expensive computers. The keyboard and mouse are similar in construction to machines such as the $1,500 Sony VAIO Digital Studio–which is comparable to the T4155 in many other details and specifications. The eMachine lacks a scrolling mouse, but that’s typical in this price range. I recommend you purchase a scrolling optical mouse, which makes using the computer even more pleasurable.

There are two DIMM slots on the motherboard, but only one is filled–with a single 256MB PC133 memory module. Performance with power-hungry applications such as Adobe Photoshop was excellent, and I installed other graphics applications with relish knowing the T4155 was up to the task. I installed Microsoft Office 2000 and the performance was nothing short of spectacular. The few glitches I encountered were an occasional XP-related software error message.

eMachines is the third-largest vendor of desktop PCs sold through U.S. retailers, and based on my experience with the T4155, Nos. 1 and 2 had better start looking over their shoulders.

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