First off, thanks to everybody who chimed in recommending either the r3000 or epson 3880 printers. I ended up going with the r3000 because it was quite a lot less expensive and I don't think I will print enough to make the ink savings with the 3880 worth it.
Made my first few prints, using lightroom, from my macbook pro 17" and the r3000 and was wholly and entirely disappointed. Dark prints with colors off. I was darn confused as my screen is calibrated. Opened up the tiff files on the new computer (old laptop has almost all of my photos on it), which has a nec monitor pa231w and lo an behold, my laptop screen is too bright even after calibration. Couldnt figure out what was wrong with the colors as I had only just calibrated the nec monitor a week or two ago. And, I was using the proper icc profiles for the epson ultra premium luster paper.
Turns out the issue was the lighting in my study. Warm yellow lighting. No wonder the colors were off!
Took the photos outside into the sunlight and they perfectly match what was on my nec screen. What a relief.
So I learned two lessons today. First, even a calibrated macbook pro screen can be off and is not nearly as accurate as a calibrated nec screen. Not that the nec model I have is a top of the line photography champion monitor, but it was affordable and seems to do a wonderful job. Second, lighting makes a massive difference in how a print looks or appears.
I guess I need to get new lamps, or at least new lightbulbs throughout the house so my prints dont look crappy once I start hanging them up. Anybody have good lightbulb recommendations?
Don't usually see that sort of gear recommendation request here.
Next up is framing. But that is for tomorrow.