The Printer Works Jetscript-CX Printer. (evaluation)
by Robert Bixby
When you want true Adobe PostScript capability but you don't want to pay the authentic price, where can you go? Until now you had the choice of purchasing a low-cost PostScript clone, either resident in a printer or in a plug-in cartridge, or laying out the kids' college tuition money for a high-cost Adobe PostScript printer. But now you can purchase a real eight-page-per-minute, 300-dot-per-inch laser printer with genuine PostScript for approximately the same price as a LaserJet IIP. The Printer Works pairs recondtioned laser printer engines with the QMS JetScript product to give you just that.
JetScript consists of a long 8-bit card, a video interface cable, and the PostScript language on four double-density disks. It turns your computer and printer into a team. The PostScript interpretation that normally takes place inside the printer is performed on the board inside the computer; then the computer takes control of the imaging hardware inside the printer via the high-speed video interface, which generates the graphic.
The card comes with 3MB of RAM, so the unit doesn't have to steal very much RAM from your computer (the software uses only 3K of your system memory). You get roman, bold, italic, and bold-italic versions of Times, Palatino, Helvetica, Avant-Garde, Bookman, Courier, New Century Schoolbook, and Helvetica Narrow, plus Zapf Chancery, dingbats, and symbols--in short, the entire Apple LaserWriter Plus font list.
The installation is fairly straight-forward, if you're comfortable installing boards and if you take the time to read the instructions. The software has to be installed first (a highly automated procedure); then you have to make sure certain jumpers are in the right position on the board. You slip the board into an empty slot and string the ten-foot cable to the printer. Install the toner cartridge, and you're in business.
Though inexpensive and relatively simple to set up, the JetScript package has its drawbacks. Because the PostScript is stored on your hard disk, you sacrifice about 30 seconds each time your computer boots while PostScript loads into the JetScript RAM. The printer may cost the same as a Hewlett-Packard IIP, but it takes up a slot and has the footprint of a standard-size NEC laser printer. Furthermore (and this isn't talked about very much), Adobe-sanctioned PostScript has some very real shortcomings that might force you to make compromises you could avoid with LincPage or some other PostScript clone.
Ventura Publisher had no trouble printing graphics and heavily formatted text on the JetScript-CX printer. Steps had to be taken to simplify very complex Corel Draw graphics before they would print--a problem with PostScript, not the printer. If you are interested in a machine to do laser typesetting or proofing for desktop publishing or if you are interested in doing design or illustration work, this would be a worthy investment.
The JetScript card and new laser printer carry a one-year warranty. The refurbished laser printer comes with a 90-day warranty that can be extended to a year for $75.