Star Laser Printer 4. (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
Star Micronics offers the Laser Printer 4 as an economical alternative for users who are looking for a solid-performing laser printer but don't need Post-Script capabilities. The Laser Printer 4 is, in fact, the basic machine to which Star adds additional RAM and the Post-Script emulation options which transform it into the StarScript model.
Its physical dimensions of 16.4 inches wide by 15.2 inches deep by 7.3 inches high are identical to those of the StarScript, but at only 24.5 pounds, it weights in 2 pounds lighter than its sister model.
The standard RAM configuration for the Laser Printer 4 is 1MB, twice the amount usually found on comparable lasers from other manufacturers. The inclusion of a full megabyte of RAM as standard equipment makes the Laser Printer 4 capable of handling desktop publishing and most graphic applications as well as able to download soft fonts. There are three memory expansion boards available (in 1MB, 2MB, and 4MB configurations) that can boost the Laser Printer 4's total RAM to a maximum of 5MB--more than enough to handle virtually any graphics requirements.
The Laser Printer 4 supports HP LaserJet IIP and Epson FX-850 emulations as standard bill of fare, with IBM Proprinter XL24 emulation available via an optional cartridge. Starpage, an optional PostScript-compatible board, is also available should you ever wish to upgrade the Laser Printer 4 to Postscript capabilities.
Fourteen fonts (seven in portrait and seven in landscape orientation) are the internal complement, and these fonts include the standard workhorse Courier and Lineprinter typefaces in 10- and 12-pitch sizes for the former and 16.66-pitch for the latter. Additionally, the Laser Printer 4 can use HP-compatible font cartridges in its single cartridge slot, and HP Laserjet IIP- and Type 1-compatible fonts can also be downloaded for use with the printer.
As with other laser printers, the amount of RAM available dictates the number of downloadable fonts that can be present in memory simultaneously, so starting off with a base configuration of 1MB in the Laser Printer 4 gives you good downloading capabilities right out of the box. Of course, additional RAM is always a good idea if you intend to do lots of DTP or design work in which you'll be using lots of soft fonts.
Output resolution is 300 dots per inch, with an output speed of four pages per minute. Input paper handling is accomplished via a multipurpose tray that can hold up to 50 sheets at a time. An optional lower paper cassette can hold up to 250 sheets, and this lower paper cassette is HP compatible (as is the disposable EP-L toner cartridge assembly). Printed output can be delivered either facedown (up to 50-sheet capacity in this mode) or faceup (20 sheets maximum in this mode). Paper stocks of 16-28 pounds can be used with the Laser Printer 4 in letter, legal, A4, Executive, and B5 sizes. Four envelope sizes can also be accommodated (Monarch, #10, DL, and C5), and odd-size sheets (from 3.8 up to 8.5 inches wide and from 5.8 up to 14 inches long) can be fed manually into the Laser Printer 4.
RS-232C and Centronics parallel interfaces are built into the Laser Printer 4, which will cover the needs of most IBM-compatible users. For those users who would also like to connect a Macintosh to the Laser Printer 4 or use it on an AppleTalk network, Star also offers an AppleTalk interface; this option, however, requires the Starpage board and at least 1MB of additional RAM to activate.
Laser printer users looking for an inexpensive alternative to PostScript-capable machines should find Star's Laser Printer 4 to their liking. It's a lightweight machine capable of handling a wide range of functions. TOM BENFORD
Star Laser Printer 4-$1,395 STAR MICRONICS AMERICA 420 Lexington Ave., Ste. 2702 New York, NY 10170 (800) 447-4700
Circle Reader Service Number 367