How to get photo-quality printing on HP Inkjet

I have an HP DeskWriter 600 Inkjet printer, and when they show it to you in the shop, they show you pretty impressive printouts, near photographic quality. I can't get it to produce anything LIKE that quality.
Can someone give me a recommendation on the best setup to get a photo-quality printout?
I have Photoshop 4.01 -- what should my settings be for DPI, Printing Inks setup, RGB/CMYK, bleed, transfer, screen, and on the printer, there are settings called intensity and halftoning (pattern or scatter -- is this the same as dithering?)...

I know I'm trying to get a lot for my money, but I must be able to get better results than this without wasting all my money on glossy paper and ink cartidges and getting results that look like they've been dithered all to hell by a 256-color monitor...
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johnny99Asked:
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magigrafCommented:
johnny99...

I read you loud and clear...

Of course the glossy paper weither you like it or not will make a HELL of a difference.
Now there is a lot of things to take in consideration when you make an in house printing or what we call PROOF.  These 3 to 400 $ printers cannot perform like their counter part deskjet in the professional series like the one we use here.  And the most apparent problem is DRYING.  These low end printers do not have the DRYING mechanisn that the other high end have, therefore you will always think that they printed these images on these printer in the store. (it's all B.. S..) They use other enhancement just to sell you the printer.

Anyway to keep the story short try out these combinations.

1) Since you do not have a POSTCRIPT printer, you can forget all about these settings in PHOTOSHOP (Bleed, Transfer etc...)
2) Scan your image at 100 DPI ONLY then convert it to CMYK in photoshop that if your scanner scans RGB (which normaly should)
3) Print your image on that 300DPI printer or 600DPI, and you could check the results.

Let me know if this has helped.

P.S: Same problem happens when you try to print a 300DPI B/W photo on a 600DPI printer..  (Can't do that, you would have to decrease the resolution and let the printer compensate for the difference.)

If you need more assistance let me know.
Regards
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johnny99Author Commented:
Thanks for that, I'll try it out and get back to you tomorrow.

P.S. I wasn't objecting to buying the glossy paper, just wasting so much of it on the printing setup I have... : )
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weedCommented:
you will NEVER get the quality they show as a demo...most of the time they choose images with colors that print well and make several other tweaks to get those prints. those tweaks arent repeatable by customers.....those scheming heathens.....anyway it will never look that good.
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magigrafCommented:
johnny99...

Fine, I'll be on guard for help if needed.
Regards
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johnny99Author Commented:
Thanks Magigraf,

Here are your points: I've got much better results -- not like the ones in the shop : ) but much less dithered -- if you have the time, you want to explain the logic behind it? I have a 300 dpi printer and a 300 pit image, but it works out better if the image is reduced to 100?

I just don't have the logic straight in my mind...
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magigrafCommented:
johnny99...

LOL....
Thanks for the points, and I know that in your mind, there is no logic behind it.
We do designs and graphics for living, and I have come a long way to know these little tips (undocumented) like we say.

The logic behind it is simple:
When the image is scanned in at 300 DPI and you try to print it on a 300 DPI printer, the amount of information that travels between your system and the printer (the printing information or file) is bigger than what the printer could hold, so it just ignore most of it and reproduce whatever is sees fit.

You could easily overcome this problem by reducing the amount of information travelling to the printer, by reducing the resolution of that image.  The printer then could print most of the real information.

Hope it helped (My collegues designer laughed at me the first time I explained this theory, but now.....) they know I was right!!

Regards
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johnny99Author Commented:
Are you saying that it's in fact the file size that is causing the printer to dither, i.e. that a 300 dpi file is just too big in megabytes?

I'm a simple bloke from the country and when I buy a printer with 300 dpi written on it, I expect it to work best with 300 dpi images.

In fact I'd be happier if you'd told me to make the image 150 dpi and let the printer interpolate the "missing" pixels in between each pixel I send -- but 100? Is this a random trial-and-error figure or a specific one?

This is harder to understand than the Monty Hall problem...
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magigrafCommented:
Johnny99....

Well not quite exactly, these 300DPI works well for Line ART not images.

Images by themselves are a different ball game. Some printer sends the font as VECTOR and you could change that to RASTER (which is pixels like images).

These 300 DPI printers are fine for TEXT and TABLES but will always comes short on images.

The bottom line is :
You don't have a Postcript Printer you've got almost NOTHING.
If you can't produce a print out at least of 1200DPI you'll get a barely acceptable low end results.

These outputs you see in the store could easily mislead you in the way you perceive or expect results from the printer.

Just for fun, walk into any Computer store, next to each printer you'll find a VERY NICE print.  Now put them to the test; ask them to make one before your eyes, and make sure to ask them to remove any Special cartdige or enhancement add-on they migt have added.

THEY GOT NO CHANCE.

Something else, did you noticed also that these print are LAMINATED?? Another uselful tip. It makes the printout stands better.

I can write forever here about these printers and these guys, but I have to go.
Take care.
Regards
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