I really find it unbelievable that this is not a solved problem.
As I indicated in my first post on this thread, it is a solved problem. It's just that the solution isn't obvious and requires equipment and skills.
Here's super over-simplified instructions to how to solve the problem:
- Buy a spectrophotometer such as the i1 Pro or the Color Munki.
- Use said spectrophotometer to calibrate and profile your display.
- Again use said spectrophotometer to profile every combination of printer / ink / paper you use.
- Learn what to do with all those ICC profiles you've created. That includes things like soft proofing -- and there's a lot more to soft proofing than ticking a box in Photoshop. Much more. And that's just one small piece of the puzzle....
- For bonus points, use better software than that X-Rite ships with their instruments. They make some very good but very expensive profiling software that shouldn't be too hard to use. ArgyllCMS produces superlative quality and is free, but it's command-line only. There are other options, too.
I assure you, that's "all" you need to do to solve your problems within the physical limits of the various pieces of hardware. Problem is, it's not an easy solution....
OK, I have calmed down a bit by now
I know that there is a way to get prints look the way they should. I know there are people (professionals) who are skilled enough to get these systems to work properly.
What I meant was that I find it weird that there is no simple solution to get this to work at home, for amateurs who can not invest the time and money to go through the entire recipe you described (command-line is not even the issue, I would not have a problem with that...). My thought when I purchased that printer was that it is a way to get around the randomness of large-scale commercial photo-printing companies. I thought that if I get a printer, use that company's own ink, quality paper, and established software I would get a system that is close to plug-and-play. But that is far from the truth... That is what annoyed me, and that is what I meant by "unsolved problem".
Granted, if I want to make the best possible espresso in my own kitchen I can not just get a professional espresso-machine. I also have to learn which beans to buy, how to grind them, how much of them to use, how much pressure to apply, etc. But since we are dealing essentially with chemistry and computers in the case of photo-printing, I thought that things would be sufficiently well standardised and controlled to make the procedure simple. I think if I would take to photos with different cameras of the same type, using the same settings, I would get identical pictures - or is that not the case? That is what I also expect from printing.
Essentially what this all means is that for any non-professional (or for me, at least) it is simply impossible to get great prints without investing a lot more money and a lot more time. Both of which I am able to invest only to a certain extent. It just looks like I have to reduce my expectations, and that frustrates me.