EPSON strikes again

Software Update brought me an updated driver for my Stylus Photo 2200 today. I installed it with some trepidation after ensuring that I had a current backup of my system. The new driver looks and works almost identically to the previous version. The one difference I noted, and it is a significant one, concerns black-only printing. The "Ink" setting is now locked to Color if your application (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) is set to manage colors.

If you like to print with the black-only (BO) method, you must tell your application to let the printer driver manage colors before you can select Black. You might be tempted to think, "so what?" Unfortunately, letting the driver manage color means there is no way to use an ICC profile to ensure consistent results with different papers.

I compared a BO print I did a few days ago when I could still use a profile to a new print of the same image on the same paper. The new print was noticeably lighter and had a different tonal gradation.

Needless to say, I am not happy. This is one more reason my next printer will be a Canon or HP.

Christmas came early (updated 12/31)

I came back from a break Monday afternoon and noticed that Apple’s Software Update was indicating in my Dock that an update was available. I didn’t get excited because I figured it was another Java update or something. Imagine my surprise when I finally got around to looking at it and found that it was a driver update for Epson printers “installed on this computer!” The only Epson printer this computer knows about is my 2200 so I figured this had to be good.

Having been burnt already with the Snow Leopard upgrade, I decided to check Google for any problem reports before installing the update. I did not find any so I promptly updated my Time Machine backup and then told Software Update to proceed. Once the update was installed, I deleted the 2200 I already had defined and added a “new” 2200 in the Print and Fax preference pane. I was shocked. Not only did I have all the options back that I had under Leopard, but the Status Monitor actually worked on my Airport-connected printer and showed me the ink status! That’s a feature that had never worked before even under Tiger and Leopard!

Needless to say, I’m in hog heaven right now. My prints are coming out looking as beautiful as they did before Snow Leopard and I have even more functionality than I had before. I’m not sure who to credit, Apple or Epson, but I’m overjoyed to have my printer back. Does this mean I’m over being upset about Epson’s policy toward Mac users? Of course not. We’re still second-class citizens in Epsonville despite being arguably the heaviest users of high-end Epson printers and their very profitable (for Epson) inks. Does this update at least soften the blow? Yes, although the fact that it took three months is disappointing. Am I still going to switch to Canon or HP when it comes time to buy a new printer? Probably. Even allowing for the possibility that Apple is responsible for the delay, I do not like Epson’s attitude toward Mac users. They have a lot of work to do if they want to turn their image around in my mind. I’m not naïve enough to think that Epson cares one bit about what a small fry like me thinks. I know that voting with my wallet isn’t going to have any effect on them. But I’m going to do it anyway, and if enough of you do it too then maybe we can at least get the attention of Epson’s most junior janitor.

Enjoy your Christmas, Hanukkah (belatedly), Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you may choose to celebrate at this time of the year.

UPDATE Fri, 31 December 2009
Doug Haass posted on the BAPC web site that Epson has posted new drivers on their web site as well. If you notice, the update previous to this one was posted almost two years ago (ignore the fact that it says it's for 10.6 — they changed the description after Snow Leopard came out but the update didn't work for me). The driver before that was posted a year and a half earlier (June 2006!) for Tiger. Only four updates in six years. The evidence is all right there in the open.

Give me a broken!

I’m still pissed about the Snow Leopard/Epson driver debacle. Epson’s ignominious silence about drivers for the 2200 or any of the other fine printers they don’t seem to care about anymore is short-sighted and arrogant, neither of which is good for the long-term success of the company. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Epson is ignoring the history of many other companies who caused their own demises by narrow-mindedly pursuing only the largest segment of the market. See, here’s the problem with that: markets change. Epson is chasing the Windows market as it continues to erode, all the while treating the Macintosh market like a steaming pile of elephant dung. All they seem to want to do is sell new printer models to Windows users.

Earth to Epson... here’s a news flash. Graphics professionals (arguably the heaviest users of your very profitable ink) by and large use Macintosh computers. They don’t replace printers every time a new model comes out because the printers are on depreciation schedules. You had the Snow Leopard developer’s preview available for a year – what the hell were you doing instead of updating drivers?

Someone who goes by the name “stansil” alleges to have received a phone call from an Epson tech support representative who said they “looked into the situation and said that a Snow Leopard driver for the 2200 should be available from Epson by the end of the year or early next year.” NEXT YEAR? Is Epson f’in kidding?

We Macintosh users are mad as hell and I, for one, am not going to take it anymore. I can limp along until my 2200 is fully depreciated next year. “Hello, Canon, nice to meet you. My name is Kyle...”

Epson, you're dead to me

I’m really disappointed in Epson these days. Mac users have always been second-class Epson citizens despite buying a lot of high-end Epson printers and oceans of ink, but now they’ve left us out in the cold with Snow Leopard’s release.

Don’t get me wrong — their hardware is top notch. Their drivers and tech support, not so much. I won’t bore you with the details of my tech support encounter over the purple streaks my prints had after switching from Windows 98 to Windows 2000. It dragged on for several months and I ended up fixing it myself. My experience with Epson went from bad to worse when I switched to the Mac.

In the hours and days after Snow Leopard was released to the public (a month early), a lot of developers were scrambling to update their products to fix compatibility issues. That’s understandable. Canon and HP both had updated printer drivers posted the following day or two. Granted, Epson now has a Snow Leopard compatibility page on their support web site, but it only covers their newest, most expensive printers. The Stylus Photo 2200 is still in wide use despite being discontinued a few years ago. Unfortunately, the most recent Mac driver for the 2200 is more than three years old and doesn’t even appear to be a Universal Binary. Okay, I’ll go a little farther and say that it’s crap. It is no secret that the real money is in continuing ink sales, not the initial printer sale, so why wouldn’t Epson want to keep 2200 users happy and buying ink?

So here is the bottom line: Epson, I’m tired of you treating me and my fellow Mac users like dirt instead of like valued customers. I shoot with Canon camera equipment — if you don’t turn your corporate attitude about Macintosh users around in a hurry, I’m switching back to Canon printers. As the president of a photography club in the fourth-largest city in the United States, people frequently ask me for advice about printer purchases. I have usually recommended Epson printers in response to those questions. No more. As I said above, your hardware is top notch. But what good is top notch hardware if you don’t have the software to drive it?