NEC Pinwriter P6200. (24-pin dot-matrix printer) (evaluation)
by Mike Hudnall
NEC markets the Pinwriter P6200 as a midrange 24-pin dot-matrix printer intended for general office applications. And there's much here that will appeal to the office manager or anyone else looking for speed, flexibility, and durability. I had a chance to put it through some gruelng paces, and I've found a lot to like in the Pinwriter P6200.
As dot-matrix printers go, this one is fast--300 characters per second (cps) in high-speed draft mode, up to 100 cps in standard letter-quality mode. I dislike waiting around for a printout, and the P6200 offers several features to help speed me through assignment letters, memos, reports, and those last-minute handouts for the meeting that begins in ten minutes. The 80K buffer accepts a print job and returns control of the computer to me pronto--no waiting around for the buffer to fill and empty, fill and empty. I can move to my next editing job while the last one is printing out.
If I suddenly need to switch from continuous paper to the company stationery, I don't waste time loading and unloading paper on the tractor. Instead, the P6200 lets me park the continuous paper out of the way, load a single sheet (seven 24-pound letterhead) for a quick letter, load the envelope for a quick address, and move the continuous paper back to the printhead. Not all printers handle envelopers well, but this one does--no more trips to the typewriter just to address an envelope. And instead of waiting for a form feed to give me access to a perforation, I simply use the Tear Paper button on the control panel, which advances the paper just to the perforation. Eight seconds later, the paper retracts, ready for the next print job. I save time and paper.
I found the control panel accessible and relatively easy to use effectively once I studied the manual and learned the multiple uses of some of the buttons. The manual, fortunately, provides excellent explanations, plenty of illustrations, and a host of cross references. For the less mechanically inclined, actual photographs, rather than illustrations, might have better clarified and simplified setup and other procedures. The index, too, might have been more comprehensive. I look unsuccessively there for emulation and specifications. The manual does, however, provide a glossary, troubleshooting tips, and extensive information on just about any other printer topic relevant to this particular unit. Use the excellent table of contents, and you'll find all kinds of emulation information. There's also a quick reference guide.
Eight resident type fonts and variations give you lots of options so long as you can find the right driver. You get Draft Gothic, NEC's speedy proprietary LQ Quick Gothic, LQ Courier, LQ Prestige Elite, LQ ITC Souvenir, LQ Bold (proportional spacing), LQ Times (proportional spacing), and LQ Helvetica (proportional spacing). For all nonproportional fonts, 10-, 12-, 15-, 17-, and 20-pitch type is available. If eight fonts aren't enough for you, the P6200 will take several optional font cards.
You must pay extra for IBM X24E/SL24E emulation, a serial interface, the color printing kit, the pull tractor (required for bottom feeding), and the sheet feeder.
According to NEC, the noise level is half that of earlier 24-pin printers. If you remember the old printers, you'll appreciate the difference, and there's a quiet setting if you need it.
At $749 retail for the 80-column P6200 ($999 for the wide-carriage P6300), printing doesn't come cheap. But the hardware is solid and looks quite durable. If it holds up anything like the old NEC Spinwriters I've used, it should last for quite some time.