Comparing CMC's - Wizard vs Eclipse

Handy

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Hello all!

My name is Sandra and I am part owner of a frame shop in Manitoba Canada.

We have been in business for 10 years and have decided it's time to invest in a CMC.

We have been looking at the Wizard, and it seems to be the most popular machine out there, but we recently heard of the Eclipse, and we'd like to know a little more about it.

Does anyone have any thoughts about this? I'd like to hear from anyone who had an Eclipse.

thanks!
 

McPhoto

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Sandra -
Welcome to TG - I too would love to have some
wise Grumbler tell me what to buy! It seems that like a proud car owner, whatever CMC the have parked in their "garage" is the best one out there. If you check the archives, you will get a variety of opinions. If you can test drive a couple at a trade show. So far I've narrowed my choices down to four!
smileyshot22.gif
 

Handy

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Geez Mike!! don't DO that!! I've only got 2 in mind...... I don't even want to know what the other 2 are that you are thinking of!! LOL!!
 

Puppyraiser

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It really doesn't matter. They are all fine machines. Just get one; you won't look back! PS: We are Wizard people...
 

Marion P

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I looked at the Gunnar Rapido, Wizard and The Eclipse, but we went the the Rapido due to the customer service Hughe's had offered us.

the wizard I thought was a better machine over the Eclipse only because I like the way it printed on the mat boards and the other clip arts designs that it came with, but the technical person lived in Sydney and that was just too far away for learning and repairs.

Just do your homework, and get a demo on both machines, and go with the one that will give you the best service AFTER you buy it! Its the learning that you want and when you get your CMC, enjoy it, I love mine

Marion
 

Mike Labbe

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Here's a list of 19 or so that you can compare side-by-side.

http://www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/

Please note: The Fletcher/Valiani models are incomplete because i'm waiting for someone to get back to me with the details. Their info is available at www.fletcher-terry.com

Everyone will be proud of what they have invested in and know.

Wizard and Eclipse are the top players in the USA/Canada market, in my opinion. Fletcher just recently (March 2005) started reselling Valiani models in the USA, which look promising. The hardware is fantastic, but the software may need time to improve. Wizard's strengths, IMO, are their impressive software, marketing brilliance(rental program), and dominant market share. Eclipse's strengths are their hardware, customer service, and steadfast reliability.

Gunnar, TruCut, Valiani, Zund are the big players in Europe.

We're a Wizard customer, but I encourage you to check them all out, demo them at trade shows, and make your own determination. It's a very worthy investment, even for a small shop. It's like having an extra employee, and anyone can learn how to use it in just a few minutes to get a perfect mat every time. Most POS systems will optionally export the cutting instructions to the Wizard or Eclipse, to avoid any mistakes.

CMCs and POS systems are pretty much standard tools of the trade. Visualization systems are also growing in popularity.

Most companies have a 1-3 month "waiting list", and are cranking out the manufacturing as quickly as they can. My advice is to buy early if you plan to take advantage of the Atlanta trade show specials, because this is probably the largest trade show as far as sales are concerned. Once someone signs a contract, they put you on a "FIFO" list and the machines are sent out in the order they were sold. Someone buying in the last hours of the final day may receive theirs mid December or January, if things are backed up like they were in the past. If you've had all your questions answered prior to the show and tried the machines locally, some vendors may even honor any "show special" by phone and get you on the waiting list early.

Happy hunting!
Mike, resident tech geek
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Handy:
...I've only got 2 in mind...... I don't even want to know what the other 2 are that you are thinking of!! LOL!!
Yes, LOL.
faintthud.gif


For us small shop framers, the CMC is the most expensive and often-depended-upon piece of equipment in the shop. You are right to inquire and to carefully weigh the pros & cons of every machine you can find.

Several others have wisely commented to the effect that we all think the one we know most about is the best choice. So, as you consider conflicting advice, consider that, too.

If I were looking for a CMC today, I would buy the Fletcher/Valiani MatPro CMC150. Priced at $12,900.00, it is presently the best value on the market for my business. Not only is it the lowest price, but it has all of the features I would want.
 

Merlin Framers

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After a 6 month long look at CMC's, studying the technical setup of each, looking at the software of each and even spending time at the trade shows here in the UK 'playing' on about 4 of them. The two in front are the Valian MatPro and the Wizard.
Features wise, basically two identical machines. Software wise the Wizard is ahead, but Valiani are working on a new release (reliably informed).
Best value for us in the UK is the Valiani at £9000 but you need to get a computer and compressor £600-£800 extra.
The Wizard complete is £13500. All prices are inclusive of VAT (sales tax).
For a small frame shop; as we are, the difference of £3500 is quite a significant factor. Hence we will be ordering our Valiani MatPro next week.
 

GUMBY GCF

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I agree with everything said and it has been said before many times!~ look at the one that will do what you want it to do and has the best R&D. Are they trying to make it better have they made it better year after year? Will it cut waht you want how you want it!~ You can have the best tech. support but if it does not fill all your needs Who give a crap if it runs!~
We researched and came to the conclusion the Wizard was best for us!~ They keep upgrading the software, they keep adding more cut art, making the software user more freindly!~ They actually ask what features you would like to see added to the software. ( they don't always add them but they ask LOL ) All this said it does not mean the others are not good!~ But You asked!~

BTW We have had ours since 1998!~ One major problem and they next day ups the part to us!~
thumbsup.gif
 

Handy

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I checked this site out but it really doesn't say much at all regarding the Wizard.

So, what people are saying, from what I can gather - that maybe the Wizard has the easiest to use and most flexible softwear??
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Handy:
...So, what people are saying, from what I can gather - that maybe the Wizard has the easiest to use and most flexible softwear??
Please don't rely on Grumble comments for a decision like this. Very few of us could give you any sort of comparative information, because most of us are proficient with only one CMC -- the one we use daily.

Yes, the Wizard has very good software, but so do most of the other machines. The only way for you to know which is best for you is to go to a trade show, or find friendly framers in your area that have each of them, and try them out.

If 60% of the respondents claim they love their XYZ machine's software, that does not mean it's the best for you. It only means 60% of the respondents to your question have that machine. ABC's software may be better for you, but how would you know?
 

WizSteve

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Yes, the Wizard has very good software, but so do most of the other machines ... ABC's software may be better for you, but how would you know?
I wholeheartedly agree with Jim here - ask for a demo of each CMC's software and try them out.. the difference should be readily apparent. Then again, I'm biased..


We've really concentrated our efforts in the past on supporting the largest market segment of the industry, the custom framer. The software's been designed to offer the average custom framer the most options, the most CutArt, and shortest time to cut a mat (and also includes some production features such as tiling a design on a full sheet of matboard). Plus the rental options make it one of the most affordable.

And we usually update the software once or twice a year. Our competition? Well... ;)

PS> Sandra, I really like some of your x-stitch designs.. My sister is really big into doing that, and I even wrote her some software a looong time ago to make her own designs on computer. One of these days I'm going to do a fabric-wrapped mat with a xs design as the border (like your tapestry piece). Cool stuff...

PPS> And sorry, I don't normally hype our machine on The Grumble. I try to stay as neutral and geeky as possible..
 

MarkEatonLLC

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I find this discussion interesting. I hope the following is as useful as it is long.

I would like to see a poll on how many framers actually make the cut/clip art a part of their days sales. I have found that in my 8 years of working with CMC's that 80- 90% of all designs that are cut are configurations of rectangles and ovals.

Yes, I know that there are currently complete businesses being built on the picture block font, or as some call them - letter mats. But these are the exception not the rule. And, I hesitate to say - this is a fad. I am not trying to step on anyone’s toes here. I could be wrong about the fad part. Some big people in the framing industry thought CMC's were a fad when Wizard and Eclipse were just starting out.

Every CMC will cut a rectangle no problem. Many of them cut Ovals too. Once the cutting head on the CMC has been made to cut an Oval, boats, planes, trains, and true type fonts are also possible.

Why do many CMC vendors write software that has a separate program for single opening mats versus multi-opening mats? Isn't a single opening mat just a multi-opening mat with one opening? Why do some CMC vendors create a crevasse between these two types of mats - the root file formats are even different. What happens to my file that was created originally as a single opening when I want to add a second opening, or a clipart, or a font to it? Do I have to recreate it completely in the multi-opening side of the software? Do I loose features in the multi-opening software that are available to me in the single opening software?

I would also like this poll to ask how many people use CAD to design things that are not in the standard software, or how many people use an outside service like mine to have CAD designs created for them. Do the people selling these custom designs recoup the investment in this type of work or is it a lost leader used to create word of mouth advertising. Is this work a competitive advantage? Is this why people are reluctant to share their custom clipart on MikeL's web site?

Technically, you can create a single opening mat, a multi-opening mat, or any custom design in CAD. You can align openings, merge openings, rotate & mirror openings, cut, paste, copy, and array openings in CAD. You can move designs created in CAD from a Wizard to an Eclipse, or from any CMC to any other CMC. CAD protects your investment in designs. The software written by the CMC vendors is in essense a macro based CAD system - the macros are created specifically for framers. The problem is that the files created by the CMC vendor are saved in a custom file format designed by that CMC vendor. They only work on machines built by that CMC vendor. They keep you locked in to that vendor for years to come.

Do you know that it is actually possible to create a mat program using MS Excel, or any other spreadsheet fo that matter? I have spreadsheet that will create mat files for the MatWriter, Eclipse, Wizard, Mat Maestro, and the Flecther F-6100. (If anyone is interested in this topic let me know.)

The last thought that I would like to discuss is: why don't any of the industry leading trade magazines have an independent lab set-up for evaluating CMC's for the framing industry? After all this is, I think, the most expensive piece of equipment that a framer relies upon to do his/her job. If Decore, PFM, Volume, or any of the other magazines would be interested in doing this I would be glad to run the lab for them and write the articles.

Although I designed the MatWriter and the Eclipse, I have not worked for Eclipse for 4 years now. I now evaluate, service, and provide custom mat programs for all of the CMCs equally - even the ones that are not supported by their original manufacture.

In conclusion, there are good parts and bad parts to all CMCs. The fact that everyone thinks the one that they chose was the best should tell you that they are all good products capable of doing the job being asked of them.
 

WizSteve

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I would like to see a poll on how many framers actually make the cut/clip art a part of their days sales. I have found that in my 8 years of working with CMC's that 80- 90% of all designs that are cut are configurations of rectangles and ovals.
I recently did some statistical analysis with data that some of our customers elected to share, and found that ~77% of mat designs that were cut were single opening rectangles and ovals. That number is much lower than any of us here expected (I personally thought it was around 90%). And maybe not very surprising was the next most popular template of ours - 312, the oval-in-a-rectangle opening.

Why do many CMC vendors write software that has a separate program for single opening mats versus multi-opening mats? Isn't a single opening mat just a multi-opening mat with one opening? Why do some CMC vendors create a crevasse between these two types of mats - the root file formats are even different.
Part of this comes because a single opening design interface is much easier to code - you don't have to worry about all the other stuff required for multiple opening layouts - so most CMC vendors starting out write a single opening app just to get started. That's how it happened at Wizard at least - the first multi-opening tool for us was basically a CAD macro. Of course, the primary computer OS was still DOS back then.
We have since moved to one file format though...

But the real reason to have a simple single opening mode is speed. Since 77% or more of framer's time is cutting a single opening, they only need to enter a minimum of 3 numbers to create a mat (opening or outside width and height, and the borders). And a single opening mode tends to be easier and more intuitive for most framers.

And not to mention that a sigificant portion of our user base were originally trained to use a single opening mode. Many things found in our software today are there because they started that way and we wanted to maintain a modest level of familiarity, even though they could possibly be implemented better or in a different way.

The problem is that the files created by the CMC vendor are saved in a custom file format designed by that CMC vendor. They only work on machines built by that CMC vendor. They keep you locked in to that vendor for years to come.
Of course... when good software is a competitive advantage of a hardware company, you don't want that software supporting competitor's hardware. Especially in this industry, where all future software upgrades for CMCs are free. A company would have to charge a sigificant amount of money for the software to recoup the loss of a hardware sale.

Its the same reason why Apple, even though they are now moving to Intel chips, will still prevent OSX from running on non-Apple boxes. They're a hardware company.

Personally, I'd love to see our software running everywhere for every machine. But I haven't been the one responsible for selling over 4000 machines, so they don't leave decisions like that up to me..


Why don't any of the industry leading trade magazines have an independent lab set-up for evaluating CMC's for the framing industry?
I think this reason is about trying to stay neutral as possible. I suspect the CMC and POS companies represent a non-trvial amount of advertising dollars, and magazines in this industry need to play it safe. And lets face it, all CMC units combined sold in the US probably don't even break the 6,000 mark.

At least Mike's site does a great job of cataloging and comparing all the different CMC and POS vendors. When I first talked to Mike about it I said then I was surprised that none of the trade rags maintained any lists like that. I'm also surprised he hasn't added Google AdSense to his pages with all the hits he's getting..



Good post Mark... and if you'd like the most recent set of our custom design tools, shoot me an email..
thumbsup.gif
 

TerryW

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So, I'm a relatively recent member of this group and still learning my way around, but I was pleased to find this thread, in that I have considered getting a CMC. I went to the manufacturer's websites, etc. but I have a question that I haven't found an answer for... yet.

Are all CMCs designed for the Windows world, only? Are there any that support the Mac platform? If PC only, this seems a little counter-intuitive to me, in that for many years the print and web design world was strongest on the Mac platform. Many of us who spent a long time as designers have invested heavily in the Mac software and hardware, and have some bias, as well.

Anyway, if anyone has any insight into this, I'd appreciate hearing...
Thanks, Terry
 
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jim@wizard

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Mac VS PC. Well, I am unaware of any CMC software for Macs but if I had to guess, I'd say that since the CMC companies are first hardware companies that wrote hardware control software, this would have been done on PCs by engineers, not graphic or multi-media artists. Second, historically, Macs cost more (I don't want to debate this thogh) and cost matters. Finally, it seems that computers in frame shops are more likely to be PCs because of POS software, accounting needs and such. This was not really the domain of Macs.
 

TerryW

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Thanks Jim. That is kinda what I thought, though it does seem like there might be a logical connection in today's world, what with the number of folks using sophisticated graphics and image-manipulation software to create prints that are intended to be framed. Maybe there is a niche there that one of the manufacturers might explore?? Or not...

Oh, and I avoid the Mac/PC debate, too. Just like with cars or CMCs or cameras, people who have invested money in something tend to want to think they made a good investment... despite evidence to the contrary!
:rolleyes:

Terry
 

Mike Labbe

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These days the pc and mac are equals in the graphics world, imo. The same apps are available for both platforms, and they're both very good.

I never thought I'd see the Mac migrate into a UNIX type environment with an INTEL chip, but those were wise choices which will hopefully allow it to survive and grow beyond a few percent of the market.

I think something like a CMC really has to be on the pc platform, to keep the prices low and for the availability of places to get timely parts and service. New PC's can be had for a few hundred dollars, and are often included with the cmc containing all the pre-installed software.

My first experience with Apple was with the recent purchase of an IPOD, and it was an interesting and positive expererience. The wording of the documentation, the packaging materials, the colors, etc. These guys have the marketing and branding down and i'm happy with the purchase.

Apple users are a very proud group, and rightfully so.

Mike
 

WizSteve

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My first experience with Apple was with the recent purchase of an IPOD
:drool:

dang, no graemlin for that...

:mega-jealous:

shoot, that didn't work either..

oh well, have to settle for a :cool:

My wife is a graphic artist, and her only experience with a Mac was at the Seattle Art Institute, where they called them "crash-n-tosses".. though I think if I shelled out the dough for a top of the line G5 she might change her mind. But for the money, she'd rather have a Cintiq ..

I just got a new car CD deck with a front aux input. My little 128meg mp3 player works fine for my short commute to work, but for long trips I'm gonna have to lug my laptop with me.. hmm.. maybe the truck needs a docking station..
 

Handy

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Thank you for your advice everyone. I have a demo of the Wizard softwear, and I tried to download the demo for Eclipse, but it wouldn't work for me.

I emailed them and asked a few questions and for a demo disc to be mailed to me but I still haven't heard back from them. I was hoping to hear back from them today.

I'll give them a day or two before I decide what I think of their customer service!
shrug.gif


Would anyone like to voice an opinion on leasing vs outright buying??
 

MarkEatonLLC

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Wiz Steve your right on target with all your answers to my post, however I won't let you off so easily on the trade magazine topic.

Please don't take any of the following negatively. I am just thinking out loud.

You are correct - they are trying to stay neutral. And, you are also right that the advertising dollars earned by selling space to the CMC vendor is not a large portion of the publisher's income. Therefore I suggest that the reader's needs are the over riding factor. As a reader myself, I seak to learn about the state of the industry and get new ideas from seeing other's work. I also want to learn how to operate my business better and gain knowledge of new products from "in depth" product reviews. If there is no substance in the article I stop reading. As a result I stop veiwing the advertising that does pay the publishers bills. The neutral stance is as equally dangerous as any another position.

Car magazine do not ask car manufacturers to writer reveiws of the cars they produce. Computer magazines do not ask equipment manufactures to write reviews of the equipment that they produce. Why is the framing industry different?

This topic could start a whole new tread. Sorry for the digression.
 

deaconsbench

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In the buy vs rent debate, it's all about cash flow. The newbie is cash-strapped and needs to rent until business volume allows a purchase. You could buy, of course, but then you would be asset-rich and cash poor. It's all about being able to react to business opportunities when they present themselves, and that takes cash flow or credit limits. That's one of the reasons I'll be looking at the Wizard - it can be rented. Does anyone know if another leading CMC manufacturer has a similar rental/lease program?
 

Mike Labbe

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I believe Wizard is the only one with the rental program, which was a brilliant marketing idea, IMO. They all offer leases, which have a similar monthly payment to renting. Buying outright is the third option.

I suggest giving all 3 options serious consideration, because each have advantages.

Rental advantages: The hardware maintenance plan is included as long as you keep it, it can be returned at any time without penalty, and no asset concerns for the tax man.

Rental disadvantages: You don't own it and keep paying long after a the lease terms would have expired, there is a monthly corner allowance and extra fees as below.
Rental Plan 1 SR: $500 s/w, $390/mo, 4000 corners/mo incl. 4001+=5.5¢ea, cad s/w incl
Rental Plan 2 JR: $500 s/w, $245/mo, 1000 corners/mo incl. 1001+=10¢ea, cad s/w +$150

Financing/Lease advantages: A similar payment to the rental (do the math, theyre almost the same), unlimited corner use(Wizard), tax considerations, buyout at the end for a dollar if you negotiate up front, no payments after the terms are over, generous trade in allowance, resale value.

Financing/Lease disadvantages: Some leasing companies can be greedy with the rate; depending on credit, the hardware warrantee will be an additional yearly fee after the initial 12 months.

Buyout advantages: Unlimited corner use (Wizard), you own it, tax depreciation, generous trade in allowance, resale value. You can self finance or do some 'creative' financing on your own. (for example when we purchased ours 18 months ago, we put it on a 1% rewards/cash back card which had a 0% 12 month introductory rate. I then switched it to another 0% card for 6 more months until it was paid off, and had unlimited use of the Wizard with an 18 month interest free deferred payment. It had time to earn its keep)

Buyout disadvantages: It's a big investment if you're burning through a big chunk of reserve capital, the hardware warrantee will be an additional yearly fee after the initial 12 months.

Note: This list is likely incomplete, and hopefully others will add to it. They're just the first things that came to mind.
 

TerryW

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Car magazine do not ask car manufacturers to writer reveiws of the cars they produce. Computer magazines do not ask equipment manufactures to write reviews of the equipment that they produce.
I don't know about car or computer (or framing) magazines, but at least one magazine does (or did). I was the managing editor for a regional plumbing trade organization magazine. Not only did the advertisers supply articles (which were nothing more than advertsiements for their products dressed up to look like "stories") if they weren't run as submitted they pulled their ads for the next month, as a sort of retribution. The margins are very tight in the publishing business and some publishers choose to make bargains in order to survive. Unfortunately, there is a steep price to pay--- in quality, employee satisfaction, and ultimately readership.

But that doesn't mean that some publications don't flirt with the dark side every now and then. You can bet that there is always more going on than appears on the pages of the magazine. Sometimes article choices are made over a lunch meeting paid for by an advertiser. Sometimes advertisers "suggest" sources for stories. Usually there is no stated "quid pro quo" but an astute publisher can't miss the message.

Anyway, it takes a lot of resources to do an exhaustive comparison of pieces of equipment, resources that most publishers of smaller circulation mags don't usually have. One idea is to get the manufacturers to pay for it up front and in the open. They can jointly fund the project so the magazine can hire the staff to do the reviewing. Everyone has to agree that whatever is learned will be printed and the readers need to be informed, as well, but it can work. The risk is on the manufacturers, if their product doesn't stand up to scrutiny. And what if one of them doesn't want to participate? That should be noted, as well, and readers can draw their own conclusions...

Anyway, this was a little off topic... :rolleyes:
Terry
 

Rogatory

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If you are a framer reading this this thread and are on the fence about getting a CMC, the following pictures are for you;
196435.jpg
A 40x60 mat.

196436.jpg
A bunch of openings.

196434.jpg
Design time: less than 30min. Cut time:13min-32sec. Peice of mind: Priceless!

This kind of mat doesn't come along often but when it does :cool:
I'm not showing these pictures to push any particular CMC, only to show that a very complicated job can be done quickly and painlessly. How long do you think it would take to cut this mat by hand?
faintthud.gif
 

Ron Eggers

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Hey, David, ya missed a couple down in those lower corners!

While I was waiting for my CMC to arrive, I HAD to cut an incredibly complex multi-window double mat to frame an entire magazine (every page) without any of the ads.

I stalled as long as I could and ended up cutting it by hand. It took me an entire to lay it out and another half-day to cut it. Luckily, it came out right the first time.

After the CMC arrived, I went through the whole process again, just for yucks. Design plus cutting took something like 45 minutes. If it hadn't tirned out, I would have burned a couple sheets of board and a few minutes adjusting the design and that's all.

Even with a Mat Maestro, I'm sold. Imagine what you could do with a company that updates software and supports the product.
 
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