Star NX-2430 Multi-Font. (dot-matrix printer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Joyce Sides
What's so different about the Star NX-2430 Multi-Font? It's just another 24-pin dot-matrix printer, right? That's what I thought when I began reviewing the unit.
Star Micronics pushes dot-matrix printer technology a step closer to that of laser printers by offering eight optional font cartridges ($39 each) that provide more than 21 extra fonts, as well as 13 bitmapped scalable fonts on disk for use with Windows 3.0 application software (an upgrade for use with Windows 3.1 is available from the company at no charge). The fonts also work with DOS-based applications such as Harvard Graphics 3.0, Lotus 1-2-3 3.1, and First Publisher 3.0. Even without the optional cartridges, there are two draft and nine letter-quality resident fonts.
For an extra $49, you can add a 32K buffer with a battery backup. If you intend to use the bitmapped fonts or images, you may be interested in adding this cartridge to permanently store frequently used downloadable fonts or bitmapped images.
I welcome the absence of DIP switches on this printer. Instead, Star included a built-in Electronic DIP Switch (EDS) mode that offers more options than normal DIP switches. This saves times and skin, since you don't have to be a contortionist capable of reaching hidden switches.
The NX-2430 is as small as many 9-pin printers (17.3 x 13 x 5.9 inches) and with the three paper-feed paths (rear, bottom, top), it'll fit just about anywhere. It handles forms of up to three parts.
Setting up the printer took about ten minutes. The installation of the automatic sheet feeder took longer than the printer setup, but the sheet feeder is well worth its additional cost in time and money ($99). I had to keep reminding myself that I was reviewing a dot-matrix printer, not a laser printer. The sheet feeder is exceptional. It worked well with all the software I tried, including Express Publisher, Publish-It Lite, and XyWrite.
Setup time was short, thanks to the easy-to-understand instruction manual. It includes a command summary with page numbers in the back and a separate quick-reference guide to the control panel operations.
The front control panel with liquid crystal display includes five buttons that control more than 20 functions, such as font, pitch, paper park and feed, macros, form feed and micro feed, top of form, and quiet mode. The special EDS mode is set from the front panel as well, and it controls up to 15 functions, including emulation, RAM usage, and graphics print direction.
Special features include automatic paper load, short tear-off, automatic bail lever closing, paper parking, external paper adjustment, top-of-form set, first line printing, landscape paper loading, dual sheet feed paper guides, and quiet mode (the output is slower in this mode).
The quality of the output is not just as good as that of any 24-pin dot-matrix printer I've ever used-in most cases, it's better. Of course, the weight of the paper used determines the quality to a certain extent. I used 20-pound business stationery for important documents and standard fanfold paper for everything else.
I always look for pros and cons, but I simply couldn't find anything wrong with this printer. It's a great buy at $399, even with the additional cost of the automatic sheet feeder and font cartridges. I'd buy it in a heartbeat if I were looking for a 24-pin dot-matrix printer.
Star NX-2430 Multi-Font--$399
STAR MICRONICS AMERICA 420 Lexington Ave., 2702-25 New York, NY 10170 (800) 447-4700
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