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I enjoy seeing Hewlett-Packard enhance its popular DeskWriter printers, and last year's introduction of the DeskWriter C color printer did not disappoint me. This year, HP managed to put two cartridges - one color and one true black - in the same printer so you can print in color and black in the same document without switching cartridges or putting up with brownish blacks that depleted the more-expensive color cartridge.

The new printer, the HP DeskWriter 550C, will list for $1,099, should be available by 01-Nov-92, and will include a three-year warranty. Needless to say, with the new printer priced like that, HP dropped the list price of the DeskWriter C to $779. If HP wanted to make a killing, they could also offer a deal on the plain DeskWriter since Apple's comparable StyleWriter is reportedly in short supply right now.

The DeskWriter 550C includes the same fonts that Apple includes with the current LaserWriters. HP's driver uses Intellifont technology to achieve font scaling for the included fonts, and unless I'm mistaken TrueType should work with the DeskWriter 550C as well.

The new printer offers better paper handling that deals with letter-, legal-, A4-, and executive-size pages, along with envelopes. For those of you who, like me, had never heard of "executive-size" paper, it's a tad smaller at 7.25" x 10.5". I suppose a comment about executive-size brains might be in order here. The standard paper tray automatically feeds any of these page sizes and holds up to 100 sheets of paper or 20 envelopes.

The main reason to buy a DeskWriter 550C remains the improved document quality because you can print true black and color on the same page. The dual-cartridge implementation provides faster output for pages with both black and color on them, up to four times faster than the DeskWriter C according to HP. Straight text speed is about three pages per minute, and a full color page could take up to seven minutes. I presume that HP uses two print heads, one for each cartridge, or has come up with a shuttling system for the cartridges controlled by the driver. I wonder if the driver will let you print true black and a color on the same line?

Finally, I don't know how HP does this, but the DeskWriter 550C offers a color matching system implemented in the driver. This allows you to more closely match colors on the screen to the colors that appear on the page, a noticeable problem in the past.

For those of you working in mixed environments, HP will offer a DeskJet 550C at the same time and for the same price. The only difference is that you get drivers for DOS and Windows, and I assume the ports are different, probably serial and parallel for the DeskJet 550C and LocalTalk for the DeskWriter 550C. One way or another, it appears that HP has upped the ante in the inkjet market yet again.

I've started to hear faint whispers of rumors of Apple coming out with a color (or at least upgraded) StyleWriter, but I can't imagine such a printer appearing until at least the spring or more likely summer. Of course, considering the decibel level of these rumors, you can never tell.

Hewlett Packard -- 800/752-0900

Information from:
Hewlett-Packard propaganda


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