Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 500. (computer printer) (Evaluation)
by Tony Roberts
Every time I run something through the HP DeskJet 500, I find myself wishing I'd had one of these years ago. This ink-jet printer can provide laser quality output for a fraction of the price of a laser printer.
Although it operates at about the same pace as a fast dot-matrix printer, the DeskJet 500 hums along with laserlike quietness--a great relief to office mates and coworkers.
The printer sets up easily and is a breeze to operate. The documentation amply covers setup and maintenance and provides excellent detail on sending printer commands, if necessary, via Hewlett-Packard's printer control language: PCL.
Front panel controls allow you to select portrait or landscape mode; letter quality or draft mode; and 10-, 16.67-, or 20-cpi Courier fonts.
Other fonts--CG Times, a proportionally spaced font, and Letter Gothic, a sansserif font-come with the printer, but access to them requires additional software. A Software Notes manual details how to use the printer with drivers for such programs as Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Word, PFS: First Publisher, PFS: Professional Write, WordPerfect, and WordStar Professional. These drivers must be obtained from the software vendors.
However, Windows 3.0 users will find a disk containing a scalable printer driver in the package. Using this setup, Windows applications can easily access the DeskJet 500's additional fonts. With Adobe Type Manager installed, the printer handled an array of other fonts as well. If your work mandates additional fonts, use the DeskJet 500's slots for optional font cartridges or optional RAM cartridges to accommodate downloaded soft fonts.
The DeskJet 500 can use letter- or legal-size paper, can print on letterhead, and can handle envelopes. Up to 100 sheet of paper will rest in the printer's paper tray; envelopes require manual feeding.
My only complaint is that printed pages stack faceup. Unless your software allows for reverse-order printing, you'll have to reorder your pages after every print job. Transparencies,k multipart forms, and preforated stock (such as labels) aren't recommended. The printer connects to your system via either your parallel or your serial port.
Sharp and clean both in letter quality mode and in 300-dpi graphics mode, output marginally drops in quality when produced using draft mode. The ink adheres well and doesn't rub off or smudge. Expect an ink cartridge to last for approximately 500-600 pages.
Near perfect for the home or small office, the DeskJet 500 could quickly reach its limits in a busier environment. This unit should print no more than 50 pages per day. If you expect no heavier use than this, consider the DeskJet 500 for your next printer purchase.