Panasonic KX-P2023. (dot-matrix computer printer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Phillip Morgan
If I had the same luck with light switches as I do with DIP switches, I'd have to learn to read in the dark and sleep with the lights on. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the Panasonic KX-P2023 dot-matrix printer has no DIP switches at all. None. The printer comes with a 3-1/2 floppy disk with a DOS setup program that takes the place of the missing--but not missed--DIP switches and lets you control the printer from your computer.
The control panel on the printer is easy to understand and operate--not one of the five buttons has more than two functions, and they're all clearly labeled. In addition to simplicity, the P2023 offers 24-pin quality and several useful features, including paper parking, tear-off advance, and automatic loading for both single-sheet and tractor-fed paper. It has four letter-quality typefaces resident, and with 360x360 dpi resolution, TrueType and other graphic soft fonts print beautifully, albeit slowly.
The P2023 offers a Super Quiet print mode; but it's an inherantly quiet printer even in standard mode, and I don't think the slight reduction of printing noise in Super Quiet mode is enough to justify its slower printing.
In spite of its quiet, easy operation, the P2023 can arouse some typical dot-matrix frustrations. If you like precise margins, you can expect to fiddle with your software's margin settings and the paper position for each application that uses its own printer driver. The included Windows 3.1 driver offers greater control over default settings than the printer's DOS setup program (it offers Epson and IBM printer emulations), so once you get the paper positioned and margins tweaked, you shouldn't have to adjust them each time you change Windows applications.
On the printer I tested, tractor-paper jams were another frequent annoyance. The problem appeared to be the clear-plastic paper guide above the platen, which often caught the top edge the paper. (It didn't seem to cause a problem with single sheets.) Avoid the problem by swinging the guide out of the way to keep the first sheet from catching.
Paper feeding problems aside, the KX-P2023 is a good choice for home or small-business use if you want to forego the extra expense of an ink-jet or if you need to print multi-copy forms.