Print about printers. (evaluation) (column) Betsy Staples.
As we prowled the giant exhibit halls and sweltering tents that housed the National Computer Conference this year, we discovered 13 manufacturers who were showing printers of interest to personal computer users. Anadex
At the top of our alphabetical list is our old friend Anadex with the DP-9725A four-color printer selling for $2395. Color printing is made possible by a four-color ribbon with red, yellow, blue, and black bands. Operating in double-pass mode, the printer offers multiple color combinations, as a different color can be selected for each pass. Colors can be changed at any point in a printed line, and resolution of either 144 or 72 dots per inch (in both horizontal and vertical directions) can be chosen.
The machine also offers four print quality modes, including near letter quality (50 characters per second at 10 characters per inch or 60 cps at 12 cpi with proportional spacing), correspondence quality (100-150 cps), data processing quality (200 cps), and condensed (150 cps at 15 cpi and 164 cps at 16.4 cpi). Character sets provided with the printer are Swedish, Danish-Norwegian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and standard USASCII.
Other features include left, right, and full justification; title centering; positive half-line feed; in-line font changes; and RAM expandable to 12.5K in 4K increments. Options include OCR, superscript, subscript, scientific fonts; bar codes; and font downloading from the host computer. No mention is made of a noise-level rating. Canon
The Canon A-1210 color printer features seven-color drop-on-demand technology. Resolution is 640 dots per line, and maximum speed is listed at 40 cps.
The Canon printer offers the full ASCII character set in standard and enlarged modes (40 and 80 characters per line, respectively). It is compact, measuring 15-3/4" X 11-5/8" X 4-1/4", and has a Centronics parallel interface. Ink is supplied in cassettes which have an estimated life of 3.5 million characters.
Based on the specifications and a short demonstration, and despite the fact that the lowercase character set lacks descenders, the Canon looks like a good buy at $795. We'll let you know more after we get one in-house for evaluation. Sharp
A somewhat heftier color printer with a price tag to match is the Sharp IO-700 which will sell for "under $10,000." Again, ink jet technology allows the blending of four inks to create seven colors. The maximum number of dots per inch (120) can be changed to produce halftones. Speed is a tortoise-like 20 cps, but the quality of the finished product makes it worth waiting for.
The Sharp uses a TTL parallel buffer and offers a 4K data buffer along with an 8K ROM and 2K RAM. Only one version of the ASCII character set is available. The unit measures 19-11/16" X 13-1/4" X 5-15/16". PrintaColor
The TC1040 color ink jet printer/plotter from PrintaColor Corporation offers an astounding 4913 different hues. It prints horizontally in either of two resolutions: 84 or 120 dots per inch; vertically, it prints at 85 dots per inc.
RS-232C serial and Centronics parallel interfaces are available. Foreground and background colors are selectable for each of the 96 available ASCII characters, and there are eight software-selectable character sizes. Character sets are available for English, Spanish, German, French, Swedish, and Dutch.
The TC1040 sells for a remarkably low $5495. Mannesmann-Tally
Plotters are, of course, the traditional means of producing color output, and there were several worthy of note at NCC. Perhaps most worthy of note--in terms of both price and likelihood of availability--is the Mannesmann-Tally Pixy 3, which sells for $845.
The flatbed plotted accommodates 8-1/2" X 11" paper or Mylar on which it draws with fiber-tip pens. Plots are drawn quite quickly using up to three different colors.
Features of this practical little plotter include nine international character sets, variable character size and rotation, RS-232 interface, curve fitting, and scientific and Greek characters. The unit is said to be compatible with most existing business graphing software. More on this one very soon. Ricoh
A Japanese company, Ricoh of America, Inc., was showing the GP-1, a four-color drum plotter. The GP-1 uses ballpoint or fiber-tip pens to print on either roll or cut paper; it can also make overhead projector transparancies. According to the manufacturer, "it can also be used as a character printer with 214 different character patterns."
We were somewhat stunned when one of the Ricoh representatives staffing the booth told us the end-user price was "about one million dollars." Somehow it didn't seem to be worth quite that much. Further questioning revealed that the young Japanese man had misplaced his decimal point; the actual price will be about $1000.
Ricoh was also showing the 1200N daisy wheel printer. It will accommodate paper up to 13" wide and will print up to 165 characters per line at 20 characters per second.
The 1200N is available in RS-232C serial or Centronics parallel versions for under $1200. It is to be distributed in this country by Hamilton Microsystems. Panasonic
Another flatbed plotter was announced by Panasonic. The VP-6801P offers six-color plotting with fiber, ballpoint, r plastic tip pens, and features a plotting area of 10" X 7.2". It is available with 8-bit parallel, GP-IB, or RS-232C interface, and is priced at $1995.
A step up in the Panasonic line in the VP-6802P which offers eight-color plotting and a larger 14" X 10.2" plotting area along with many of the features of the VP-6801P. No price was listed for the VP-6802P. Okidata
Okidata was showing its top-of-the-line Pacemark 2410, a dot matrix printer that combines superb print quality with two-color (red and black) capability. Like its middle-of-the-line sister, the Pacemark 2350 which sells for $2695, the 2410 offers a 96-character ASCII character set; an alternate 96-character set and a 96-character downline loadable set; Okigraph dot addressable graphics; true descenders; super- and subscripts; and condensed and double width characters. Both printers offer Centronics parallel and RS-232C serial interfaces.
The 2410, which carries a suggested retail price of $2995, features three print modes: correspondence quality (85 cps), data processing (350 cps), and draft quality, which prints characters with extra dot density at 175 cps. Leading Edge
In the Leading Edge booth, which was apparently intended to resemble a zoo, we found a hybrid printer/plotter. The CX 4800 plots on standard single or fan folded rinter paper with four aqueous ballpoint pens which it changes automatically.
As a printer, the CX 4800 prints an 80-character line at 8 cps. A total of 167 characters, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation marks, graphic symbols, and foreign alphabets, is available. Printing and plotting can be mixed on the same page.
For simplicity, the CX 4800 has six user controls plus a self-test: four directional controls, pen switching, and linefeed. It also responds to 28 software commands from the user's computer. The printer/plotter sells for $695.
Also featured in the Leading Edge booth was the two-color C. Ito 8600B which offers "near letter quality" at 60 cps, "high-resolution" at 90 cps, and high speed draft printing at 180 cps. All three modes offer true descenders and underlining capability in black and red.
Available spacing includes 10 cpi, 12 cpi, 17 cpi, and proportional spacing.
The serial model, the 8600BR includes a 4K buffer and sells for $1295. The Centronics parallel model 8600BP includes a 2K buffer and bit image graphics capabilities and sells for $1395.
For considerably less money, Leading Edge offers the printer that wins our award for Most Inappropriate Name: the Gorilla Banana. For $249.95, you get a basic dot matrix printer which offers 80 columns, tractor feed, and a print speed of 50 cps. Normal character spacing is 10 cpi, but double width characters (five per inch) can be substituted under software control from the computer.
The Banana also features a dot addressable graphics mode with a density of 63 X 60 dots per inch and four character sets--U.S., U.K., Swedish, and German. The interface is Centronics parallel. Toshiba
Another Japanese firm, Toshiba America, was demonstrating three impressive printers. The Toshiba P1350 is a dot matrix printer which produces letter quality print at 100 characters per second and high speed drafts at 192 cps. Dot addressable graphics are produced at a density of 180 X 180 dots per inch.
The 132-column printer produces originals and as many as three copies on single or continuous form paper from 5" to 15" wide. It is available with Centronics parallel or RS-232C serial interface and sells for $2195.
The Toshiba TN-500 is a thermal line printer whose print speed is specified not in characters per second but in sheets per minute; it prints six sheets per minute.
It uses plain paper that is fed to it by a cassette containing 250 sheets. Serial, parallel, and video interfaces are available for the printer, which sells for $1400.
The Toshiba TH-100H is a thermal transfer serial printer which offers near letter quality print and graphics capabilities. Print speed is 36 cps, and the character set offers 96 ASCII characters plus 32 international characters. The TH-100H sells for $440. Data Impact Products
Also at the low end of the letter quality spectrum is the Data Impact Products DI-1000 daisywheel printer. With a print speed of 18 cps, the DI-1000 features 120, 144, or 180 columns on paper up to 13" wide. The Qume compatible printwheel offers 96 characters.
Additional features include bold printing, shadow printing, underscoring, and proportional spacing through software control from the host computer. The DI-1000 carries a retail price of $645. Morrow Designs
Morrow Designs announced a line of letter quality daisywheel printers designed to run with all Morrow computer systems. The MP100 prints 100 columns at 14 characters per second. It is priced at $595.
The MP200, which prints 132 columns at 20 cps, is priced at $945, and the MP300, which prints 132 columns at 31 cps, is priced at $1195. All three models offer bidirectional printing and support word processing functions such as boldface, underlining, centering and sub- and superscripts. Qume
Qume was showing the Sprint 11 Plus daisywheel printer which offers 10, 12, and 15 pitch printing as well as proportional spacing on paper up to 15" wide. Print speed is either 40 or 55 cps using a standard 96-character daisywheel.
The unique feature of the Sprint 11 Plus is the Qume Connection module, an interface module that plugs into the back of the printer enabling it to work with any computer. Modules cost $95 and are intended to allow the same printer to be used with computers of differing parentage. The Sprint 11 Plus sells for $1681.
Products: Anadex DP9725A (computer apparatus)
Canon A-1210 (computer apparatus)
Sharp IO-700 (computer apparatus)