Juki 6100. (evaluation)
Back when I purchased my first printer, an IDS-440 Paper Tiger (whose mediocre print quality fetched over $1200), the price for letter quality printers was in the $2500 range. Bacause I couldn't afford one, I harbored a secret wish for all daisywheel owners: I hoped that the petals on their daisywheels would wilt. This jealousy transformed me into an easy mark for any printer manufacturer offering "correspondence quality print,' and I quickly accumulated an assortment of dot matrix printers.
Finally, prices started dropping on the daisywheels. But alas, the drop in price meant a drastic drop in print speed, too. Finally, Juki Industries, a long time manufacturer of office machines, has come to the rescue with the Juki 6100.
This new daisywheel printer prints a robust 18 cps. Not only is the Juki much faster than other low cost daisywheels, it prints bi-directionally with logic seeking (searching for efficient print paths). Because of the logic seeking and rapid printhead movement over white spaces, the Juki appears to be faster than its rating. And while the Juki offers a decent increase in speed, it does so quite inexpensively; the Juki lists for a moderate $699.
Should the 6100 require repair, Juki has a network of 13 regional distributors across the country to provide service. There isn't a Juki dealer in my town, but the distributor that services my area, Information Systems of Arlington Heights, IL, has been extremely helpful.
The original manual packaged with my Juki was one of the worst I have ever seen. A scant 25 pages long, it was packed with grammatical and spelling errors. But inside was a slip that indicated that it was just a temporary manual; the production manual would be available soon. (This improved documention is now shipping--Ed.)
Let's take a closer look at the features that make the Juki such a good value. If a majority of your printing consists of long, single-spaced lines, you may be disappointed in the 18 cps print speed. But give the Juki double-spaced documents or forms with a significant amount of white space, and you may find that it is the only printer you'll need. The printhead absolutely flies over white space. Best of all, the Juki doesn't sacrifice quiet operation to gain speed. The noise level is rated at less than 63 dB--quiet by any standard.
My major consideration when shopping for a new printer was the availability of printwheels and ribbons. Some dot matrix printers require ribbons that can set you back well over $10 a shot. Juki, on the other hand, takes a very reasonable approach and uses IBM Selectric-style ribbons. Two ribbon types are supported, multi- and single-strike, and the Juki automatically senses which is being used. The carbon single-strike ribbons offer extremely high quality, are available for less than $2 each, and are rated for 160,000 characters (50 to 100 pages depending on how full you pack them and how much boldface and shadow printing you use). The multi-strike ribbons are somewhat more costly (about $5 each), but are rated for 480,000 characters.
Printwheels are a slightly different matter. Juki Industries sells only three of the 100-character printwheels, all containing the full ASCII standard character set. The 6100 also can use Triumph-Adler wheels, which are not readily available in some areas. A brochure received from an Adler dealer lists 20 type styles as currently available, but the wait for additional wheels from this dealer was over a month. The Triumph-Adler wheels aren't standard ASCII (see Figure 1) and the cost isn't all that attractive either--$25 per wheel. But the wheels are rated for 10,000,000 characters and will outlast many ribbons.
Changing the ribbons and printwheels couldn't be easier. The ribbon cartridge snaps in and out under the control of a single lever. The printwheel is likewise released and engaged by just one lever. To change wheels, the lever is pulled back, the old wheel removed, a new wheel dropped in, and the lever pushed forward. The printer automatically locks the printwhell into alignment on every reset or initialization, so it is difficult to insert a wheel improperly.
Controls and Indicators
The front panel contains three membrane switches, three LED indicators, and a slide switch for pitch control. The Juki can print in any of the common pitches: 10 characters per inch (cpi), 12 cpi, 15 cpi, or proportional spacing. The pitch control takes effect only when the printer is turned on or a special software control code is issued.
The three LEDs are labeled Power, Ready, and Check. Checks include both recoverable and non-recoverable errors. When a recoverable error is encountered, such as reaching the end of a sheet of paper, the Check light glows a soft red and a beep sounds. Should a non-recoverable error, such as a paper jam or hardware malfunction occur, the Check light flashes. Both the Power and the Ready light are green, and the Ready light has a flashing mode which indicates a data transfer error.
The memberane switches are labeled Reset, Pause, and Form Feed. A control conspicuous by its absence is a single linefeed. The Pause switch halts printing in mid-line, allowing for ribbon or printwheel changes. If the printhead is moved while changing a ribbon or printwheel, printing resumes at the exact location at which the Pause switch was depressed--a very handy feature.
A self-test feature is activated by pressing on the Form Feed switch while turning the printer on. Releasing the Form Feed switch causes the RAM buffer, the optional serial interface, if installed, and the character set to be tested.
The manual indicates that the printer will recognize the end of a ribbon and pause for a ribbon change, but this feature is not fully functional. The printer recognizes only the very end of the ribbon, well past the inked portion. Because the printer will merrily continue printing after the ribbon is used up, paying careful attention to the amount of ribbon left is critical.
At the rea of the printer are the ON/OFF switch, three-prong power cord, and the standard 36-pin male Centronics parallel connector. A serial interface board is a $60 option.
Printing impression is set by DIP switch to either low or high (the Juki can handle an original and three carbons). Other DIP switches are used to choose a linefeed or no lineffed with carriage returns, the type of international character set used (eight are available), continuous or cut sheet paper, 11 or 12 form length, six or eight lines per inch, and curiously enough, whether or not you are using an IBM PC. The DIP switches, placed just inside the cover behind the front control panel, are easy to reach.
Printing Options and Features
Print features include superscripting, subscripting, double-striking, bolding, underscoring, and shadow printing (see Figure 2). The registration is accurate enough that double-striking and bolding (striking the same location three successive times) are barely noticeable. The shadow print is bold attractive, and distinctive.
This printer seems capable of anything my software can throw at it, and then some. The maximum paper width is 13 , with an 11 print line. The print line is good for 110 characters in 10 pitch and up to 165 characters in 15 pitch. The proportional mode prints from 82 to 220 characters per line. Under software control, you can also change the between-character spacing to obtain almost any pitch desired.
In graphics mode, the Juki is capable of 120 by 48 resolution. This is good enough for some limited graphic applications such as line charts, but high resolution still calls for a dot matrix printer.
Full control over the printed page is allowed. You may set, through your software, top, bottom and side margins, tab stops, and line spacing. If desired, you may also change the print head path from bi-directional to uni-directional.
The Juki offers a standard 2K buffer, expandable to 8K. The manual lists the designations of 10 different RAM chips that may be used by the do-it-yourselfer to expand the buffer. While the manual cautions that the installation should be performed by a dealer, it is nice to have the information available.
A bi-directional tractor feed is available as an option, although if you are careful when lining up the feed path, continuous-feed paper can be used with no slewing. I have printed documents of over 15 pages in this manner with no noticeable variation in margin alignment.
The Juki 6100 is a well designed and well executed daisywheel printer. In a feature-by-feature comparison, the Juki outstrips anything in its class. The availability and price of ribbons is a very significant feature, as are the expandable buffer, auto paper load, multiple pitches, low noise, excellent documentation, and print quality. I have only two real complaints about the juki: one, that it doesn't use a more standard brand of printweheel, and two, that the end-of-ribbon feature does not function as it should.
Because of its low noise and sturdy construction, this printer is a good choice for the office as well as the home. The Juki 6100 will be well received by anyone needing a high quality, low cost, light to medium duty letter quality printer. In fact, you may find, as I have, that the Juki 6100 is all the printer you need.
Very nice job, William. Perhaps we shall be hearing more from you in Print About Printers.
Next month we will continue our new products information, as well as evaluate the Star Micronics Delta-10 and the NEC Spinwriter 2050. So until next time, try to stay the top of form. See you then!
Photo: The Juki 6100 daisywheel printer.
Photo: Figure 1.
Photo: Figure 2.
Products: Juki 6100 (Computer printer)