IProof PowerRIP 2000 as successor to Birmy PowerRIP 2000.

We are currently seeking a better understanding of the relationship of iProof PressProof, Birmy PowerRIP 2000, and Birmy PressProof Proofing System. As soon as we understand the situation we will update this page in our next following update season.

We know Birmy from years back, when it was basically the only low-cost RIP to run the sluggish Epson desktop printers. Since those cheap printers only cost a few hundred dollars, there was no incentive to pay $2,000 for an industrial-strength RIP. Birmy was just fine: besides, like everyone who starts in digital imaging, most begin with an Epson (as did we in 1997). That's why these are labeled as entry level. However these are disposable printers, and gradually people learn there are better options from other manufacturers.

iProof is a clever idea. Offer a low-cost RIP as a proofing solution with an associated proofing paper. But would a professional pre-press bureau actually use iProof? What about Aurelon, SeeColor (not many recent updates), ColorBus (they disappeared for a while) or the more sophisticated BEST color management RIP? We won't get into CreoScitex and the Iris proofers, since most people have long ago learned that you can find more economical solutions. One Iris desktop proofer is reportedly made by Canon. One of Iris's large format printers is their version of the basic Mutoh, which has the same piezo printheads as the Epson 9000. Rebranding is typical in the digital imaging business however the rebranding needs to be clearly stated.

Back to iProof PressProof. It is difficult to tell where Birmy ends and where "iProof Systems" begins. PowerRIP 2000 seems to be a growth out of the original Birmy RIP for cheap Epson desktop printers. These printers are sold to mostly unsophisticated users. An Epson is usually the first inkjet printer that most photo-minded people buy. Epson simply does a better job than HP of addressing the photo hobbyist in the desktop and 24" range.

We received three e-mails questioning whether or not Birmy was a facet of the origin of iProof. Thus we are checking around on this matter. MacWeek states that iProof PowerRIP 2000 was developed by Birmy Graphics (Thursday April 27, 2000). Adobe.com itself also states that Birmy was the original source for iProof PowerRIP 2000. On this basis we stand by our original report on this aspect, though we are continuing to find out more information. We thrive on challenge.

Birmy had an acceptable reputation as an economy entry level RIP for desktop printers. Definitely better than Epson's own print drivers. But if you intend to do serious proofing then you ought to consider a serious proofing software. We have many independent sources in Germany, people in the inkjet business, so we can find out about RIPs there as well, especially during CeBIT tradeshow and Photokina tradeshows, both of which are in Germany. We also have many other sources of learning about products.

The Birmy RIP does not use true Adobe PostScript, but emulates it, as do also many other RIPs including BEST itself (as iProof points out to us). We had a Birmy RIP for our first two Epson printers but threw both printers away long ago (this was not the fault of Birmy). Now we have an Epson 7500, great output but it does not need a RIP; works just fine on its onboard drivers. But if you need PostScript, then you need a RIP. We definitely would want a better RIP than Birmy and a RIP that was not as overpriced as is the EFI Fiery RIP. So that there is no misunderstanding, a high price by itself does not make a RIP any good. We found that out the hard way. when we ended up with two EFI Fiery RIPs that we feel were grossly overpriced and underfeatured.

What we have to better understand, is whether a low-priced RIP, with its origins in desktop sized Epson printers, is the appropriate RIP software with which to run a large format printer in a production environment? This is a legitimate question to ask.

An economy RIP is tempting, but if it won't do what a prepress proofing solution really needs to offer, then you will end up paying twice. Once for the cheap RIP, then again for the professional RIP that you should have bought to begin with. However if the bargain-priced RIP is just the same as the more expensive one, then that's a true bargain.

Again, the challenge: we now have an opportunity to really check these aspects out. Being nonprofit we are a bit slow, but we have so many sources of information worldwide that we can put together a good understanding of a product.

An alternative would be various software packages available from Aurelon, such as DeskCheck and the related proofing software. These allow you to handle a larger range of printers and virtually any kind of proofing paper. Disadvantage is that few companies sell this European RIP. There is no tech support hotline in the USA either. People who actually use this software evidently like it. As soon as we have an opportunity we will test the whole Aurelon suite, though most of their capabilities are now available in ProofMaster from PerfectProof, sort of the successor to Aurelon. We also have Adobe PressReady and BEST. Adobe PressReady dropped from the market and the printer it was bundled with, a desktop 4-color printer from HP, was not impressive.

It helps to have a proofing software that works on the Epson 1520, Epson 3000 (our two least favorite printers but lot's of people are stuck with them), Epson 2000, Epson 5000, Epson 5500, Epson 7000, Epson 7500, and Epson 9000, as well as with Canon, Hewlett-Packard, and other well known printer brands. In recent months iProof has updated to cover the newer Epson, so their RIP now covers wide format size. We know Epson dealers so we can check out their opinion on iProof.

In summary: we are now checking out which of the professional color management RIPs are good for proofing, other than the super-expensive software from CreoScitex. At present the proofing solution we like is BEST. We do not accept sponsorship from a company until we know the personnel behind the product in person. That's why we go to virtually every tradeshow we can find (even to the sign printers tradeshow in Mumbai, India). Our facilities in Germany were near Krefeld so we knew their RIP since many years. We actually go and inspect the companies in person: went to visit Aurelon in Holland, for example. More importantly, we check with the wide format printer manufacturers, in person, to learn what RIPs work well with their printers. We also check to see what major international professional proofing companies select, such as Imation (former 3M), Heidelberg.

However we are always open to new, different, and optional RIP solutions, so if we get more news on iProof we will report back.

For additional information and for help making your decision now , ask for the "FLAAR Report on Large Format Inkjet Printers as Proofers." These are sent to you as a PDF file by our university at no cost.

Please note that FLAAR is dedicated primarily to large format printers, defined as 24" and above.

If you are unsure which report is best for you, just explain what you intend to print, whether this is for commercial use or in a small fledging business, whether you are new to this or already have another inkjet printer, and so on. This way our staff can judge which FLAAR reports are most appropriate for you.

If this will be your first printer, then we have a special report that holds your hand and leads you through all the basic questions that will assist a first-time buyer of a large format printer. Purchase the FLAAR report on "RIP + Help." This explains what RIP software is, why this is useful, and includes tips, warnings, information, and help for a wide range of matters for a newbie. Here you will really appreciate that FLAAR is based at a university; Professor Hellmuth has plenty of experience writing in a manner that explains what you need, and why.

iProof, iProof PressProof, PressProof Proofing System, PowerRIP 2000 are all either registered trademarks or otherwise designations of iProof, and/or Birmy.


Most recently updated Jan. 4, 2002.
Previous updates:
August 02, 2001.