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Color PostScript Printers

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Color PostScript printers still cost more than their speedier monochrome counterparts, but now that they list for under $8,000, they should become more widely available. The $7,995 Phaser PX from Tektronix will compete with the $6,999 Colorpoint from Seiko. Both printers use thermal wax transfer technology and take about one minute to print a page.

The Phaser PX runs from a Motorola 68020 chip and comes equipped with serial, parallel, SCSI, and AppleTalk ports and can print PostScript and HPGL (Hewlett-Packard's page-description language). Given extra RAM, the printer automatically switches between its ports, thus supporting the IBM and the Mac without messing with cables or cartridges. It comes standard the Apple LaserWriter PostScript font set, but the SCSI port feature won't actually work until a new feature is added later this year.

The Colorpoint uses Intel's 80960 RISC chip and comes with serial, parallel, and AppleTalk ports. It can print from any of those ports without any cable or card swapping, but the HPGL interpreting ability won't be available until an upgrade comes out later this year. The upgrade should also include the addition of two SCSI ports to the printer.

Although prices on these printers do not put them in the home-user market, it would be reasonable to expect public laser printing services and public computer rooms to have color printers and that more and more businesses will find room in their budgets for color. (After all, a color printer does help justify a color monitor!)

To give you an idea of how these printers stack up price-wise to popular monochrome printers, the Apple LaserWriter IINT and IINTX list for $4499 and $5999 respectively. To properly equip the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet IIP with PostScript and AppleTalk, you will find a list price around $3500, and the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet III with PostScript and AppleTalk lists for approximately $3,900. (These HP prices include the necessary memory upgrade for PostScript.) In addition, it looks as though prices will continue to drop, so if you can't afford color now, tune in again next year. No materials prices have been quoted, but they are undoubtedly rather high. A printer that could use standard laser techniques for printing in monochrome but could also print with thermal wax transfer for color would be an ideal combination.

Seiko Instruments USA Inc. -- 408/922-5800
Tektronix Inc. -- 800/835-6100

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