The venerable Encad NovaJetPro 36"and NovaJet Pro 50"

The Encad NovaJetPro 50" printer never goes away. The Encad web site was selling them for years. As late as 2001 this printer from circa 1996-1997 was still available. Either Encad manufactured too many of them, or is still producing them, or they simply got stuck with an excess. I don't know whether Kodak still sells their version of this model. I would guess that Oce and Ilford long ago discontinued their equivalent, after all, its only 300 dpi and has an ink supply system design that became notorious for being messy and time consuming to work with.

In their day, these Encad printers were the best and most exciting wide format inkjet printers available. People were using, and impressed with the quality of that era, years before any inkjet printer was available from Hewlett-Packard. Today many people no longer remember that Encad virtually invented the wide format inkjet printer. HP was the leader in pen plotters, but in those days had not yet thought of revising that ancient technology to create digital photographic prints with a full color gamut.

Another oldie that we saw (March 2001) still lurking on a web site, offered as new, was an Encad NovaJet 4. That's a real relic from the past. Yet the ad offered the following hype:"The Ultimate Graphics Tool It's not just about color printing. It's about stretching your artwork to the limits of your imagination. From first draft to final masterpiece, the NovaJet 4 wide-format inkjet printer from ENCAD gives you the power to produce vivid, photo-realistic images in sizes that are simply unattainable with standard desktop printers. Images so brilliant, you have to see them to believe them. Color so vibrant, conventional 4-color presses are challenged to reproduce it. More than just a printer, the NovaJet 4 is a serious graphics tool engineered for artists, designers, the prepress industry, sign makers, and other professionals looking for high performance and exceptional graphics quality."

All that for an obsolete printer! You would expect the above advertised quality from an Epson, ColorSpan, Roland or HP 5000, but not from an Encad and especially not a 300 dpi Encad. I don't know what year the NovaJet 4 was originally manufactured, but I believe it was in the previous century, literally, about 1996??

If you get used to the minimalistic design, if you don't mind that it takes hours to change the ink from dye to pigmented, and if you don't mind sucking the air bubbles out of the ink-lines by hand, then these printers are okay if you are on a strict budget.

Before you buy this printer, however, you really ought to read Nicholas Hellmuth's report on "Printers for Signs, Posters, and Banners: Comparative Evaluations: HP vs Encad vs Roland vs Epson vs Alternatives." This report is based on years of experience with the 36" brother of the NovaJet Pro 50" model.

Similar reports are available from FLAAR at no cost. Be sure to explain in the Inquiry Form what you intend to print, because sometimes this is an okay printer but for other tasks it would be the wrong choice. Just find the CONTACT or the DOWNLOADS link to reach the FLAAR reports. These reports list every known quirk of this printer, as well as its positive features that made it such an icon of early large format printers. Fortunately Encad redesigned the subsequent models and eliminated most of the foibles of the NovaJet Pro series.Visit our page on the NovaJet 1000i.

This vintage Encad printer is just four colors (due to its early date) and is a mere 300 dpi, although that was quite remarkable for 1996.

Encad, NovaJet, Octachrome, 850 and comparable model names are registered trademarks or otherwise property of Encad.


Most recently updated March 7, 2001.
Previous updates: June 1, 2002