Kodak Diconix 180si. (ink-jet printer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Ralph Roberts
The Kodak Diconix 180si inkjet printer packs a lot of power in a small package. It's manufactured by the same people who make that film in bright yellow boxes.
Kodak has entered the mobile printer market. These printers--like the 180si and its bigger brother, the 701--are lightweight but powerful computer printers working from internal batteries or AC power. Kodak's aim is to support the mobile office concept, where you take your laptop computer home or out on trips to continue working. A new-generation portable computer and a 180si together weigh about ten pounds.
The basic printer weighs only 2.9 pounds, but batteries, printhead cartridge, and power adapter add a little more. It's only 2 inches high x 6.5 inches deep x 10.8 inches wide.
Power is provided by the AC adapter or by five C-cell nickel-cadmium batteries (not included). The batteries go in a unique place--inside the platen. Lifting the cover of the printer and rotating the platen reveal the battery compartment. The batteries are automatically recharged when the AC adapter is plugged into the printer.
The 180si has a built-in tractor feed to use fanfold paper and forms. You can also print sheets of paper without perforations, like letterheads.
Print quality approaches that of a laser printer--and it costs you less money and weight. There are two print-quality settings. Draft is the faster: between 145 and 180 characters per second, depending on the size of the characters. Elite or 12-character-per-inch fonts print fastest, such as the Prestige 12 selection on the 180si's control panel. Draft text is 96 x 96 dots per inch; draft graphics are 192 x 96 dpi.
The quality setting is slower--down to 36 cps for Prestige 12, and slower for larger type. But it gives much better quality, with both text and graphics at 192 x 192 dpi, rivaling laser printers (usually 300 x 300 dpi). Four quality fonts are built in, with draft mode for each.
The 180si emulates the Epson FX-85 and IBM ProPrinter. Many programs use the 180si easily, since those two printers are often supported.
I installed and tested the 180si with a number of programs. It worked perfectly. Installing the printer driver included for Windows let me (using Adobe Type Manger) print more than 200 fonts to the 180si using Windows 3.1--not bad for such a small printer.
There are two reasons you might want to purchase a 180si: if you take your portable computer out of the office and need a powerful--but equally portable--printer, or if you want a printer that has graphics and text quality approaching that of a laser, but you would prefer not to mortgage your house to get it. At $399 suggested retail, the 180si is a good solution to both requirements. It's a nice little printer.
Kodak Diconix 180si--$399 (parallel), $419 (serial)
EASTMAN KODAK P.O. Box 92894 Rochester, NY 14692-9939 (800) 344-0006 (716) 253-0740
Circle Reader Service Number 443