Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 11 / NOVEMBER 1983 / PAGE 290

Print about printers. (Seikosha G-P 100A) (evaluation) David H. Ahl; David Grosjean.

The Seikosha GP-100A printer is one of the most widely sold printers in the U.S., although it is rarely sold under the brand name Seikosha. Instead, Seikosha is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) who packages their printer for distributors and computer manufacturers to sell under their own label.

Thus, Leading Edge sells this printer as the Banana, Axiom as the AT-100, Panasonic sells it as the JR-PO2U, Commodore as the 1525, and Spectra Video as the SV-701. Several other manufacturers market it as well. We tested the Panasonic and Seikosha versions, although they are all virtually identical. One The Outside

The printer measures a compact 16.6" X 9.3" X 5.4" and weighs in at 10 pounds. The case is made of molded plastic in light beige and dark brown. A hard clear plastic cover over the printing mechanism reduces noise and protects the interior from dust.

Two LEDs on the front indicate "power on" and "error" conditions (paper jam or ribbon out). In the rear next to the power cord is an on/off rocker switch and a 0.5A fuse. On most versions there are no other switches or indicators--no linefeed, no form feed, and no on line/local switch (which allows the printer to be on but disabled).

To replace the linefeed and form feed, there is a mechanical paper dial which rotates the paper roller in a forward direction; it is not reversible. Loading And Connecting

The sprocket feed mechanism accepts pin feed paper, labels, and forms from 4.5" to 10" wide. Generally, most users will use 9-1/2" fan fold paper which can be stripped down to standard 8-1/2 X 11" sheets. The printer does not have friction feed and does not accept single sheets.

Loading the paper is quite simple and the manual with the JR-PO2U illustrates the steps in great detail. The printer accepts up to four-part forms and has an internal printing pressure adjustment which may be set in one of seven positions to produce the best density print.

The ribbon is continuous, but has two selk-inking cassettes which must be positioned over two spindles at the right and left side of the printer.

Although the manual indicates that a self-test mode is available, it is not at all clear how to activate it.

The printer has a standard Centronics-type conector which connects to any computer with his parallel protocol. An optional serial interface is available. Printing

The specifications claim a speed of 50 cps, although speed in actual service was somewhat slower. It prints only from left to right and has a relatively small buffer of 480 bytes (about six lines).

The printer has three print modes, two for text and one for graphics. The default text mode prints 10 characters per inch, up to 80 characters per line, and six lines per vertical inch.

The statement LPRINT CHR$($OE) switches to the extended (double width) print mode of 5 characters per inch and 40 characters per line. (See Figure 1.)

Graphics mode is accessed with LPRINT CHR$($OF). This removes spacing between characters in both the vertical and horizontal directions to provide full, continuous graphics.

All printing is done with a 5 X 7 dot matrix printhead; thus there are no descenders on the lowercase g, j, p, q, and y. The printer has a character set of 124 characters which includes upper - and lowercase letters, numerals, 17 accented letters, the ASCII symbols, and a few extra symbols (see Figure 2). There are no built-in graphics characters, but the printer will reproduce graphics characters as defined by the computer (see Figure 3 and 4).

In addition to the usual LPRINT and LLIST commands, both the Panasonic JR-200 and Spectra Video computers have commands which automatically reproduce the contents of the screen on the printer. Well, yes and no.

Depending upon the colors displayed on the screen, the printer may or may not print anything. For example, you may have a vivid screen display of red on blue or blue on red, but the printer does not distinguish these a different values for printing. Furthermore, the way graphics blocks are displayed on the screen is different from the way the print routine "sees" these blocks. For example, white on black and black on white may appear similar on the screen (reversed, of course), but the printer recognizes them as quite different (see Figures 5a and 5b). Documentation

As with so many computers and peripherals the 15-page manual (with the Panasonic version) is a mixed bag. The section on setting up is comprehensive and well-illustrated. The section on operation has a few examples, and the section on troubleshooting is adequate. However, the manual does a poor job of explaining how to take advantage of the capabilities, particularly graphics, of the printer. The Bottom Line

Depending upon what it says on the front panel, you can pay between $249.95 and $369.95 for this printer. Of course, the versions from computer manufacturers usually come with connecting cables which sell for an astonishing amount when purchased separately.

For the price, the Seikosha GP-100A is a capable performer for both text and graphics. Using the HCOPY command on the Panasonic and Spectra Video computers with this printer, it is much easier to get screen prints than with much more expensive computer/printer combinations.

On the other hand, the printer doesn't have the speed, versatility, or print quality of an Epson or Diablo, but it costs a fraction as much. Also, we would have liked more complete documentation, but again, you get what you pay for.

Products: Seikosha GP-100A (computer apparatus)