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PostScript Alternatives

Last summer, Hewlett-Packard made an aggressive entry into the Macintosh printer market with its DeskWriter, a 300 dpi inkjet printer. As a substitute for the ImageWriter or as a compromise between a dot matrix and a laser printer, the DeskWriter works well. But with its slower speed and lack of PostScript imaging capabilities, the DeskWriter falls short of the LaserWriter IINT.

This summer Hewlett-Packard continues its efforts in the Macintosh arena with its introduction of an AppleTalk cartridge for several of the newer models of its LaserJet printer. For a long time now, you could attach a Macintosh to an HP LaserJet using third-party software drivers, but these drivers could not do PostScript for you. As of this writing, they still cannot.

To make a LaserJet print PostScript, you must first purchase a PostScript cartridge for the printer. We have spotted these cartridges available from Hewlett-Packard, Adobe, and Pacific Page, all priced around $500. These PostScript cartridges come with all the printer fonts found in the standard Apple LaserWriter set. Then, you must purchase the AppleTalk option from Hewlett-Packard, which comes with a software printer driver for your Mac and the appropriate screen fonts. And, finally, you must upgrade your printer’s memory to at least 2 MB, maybe 3 for comfort. All told, purchasing all these options is cheaper than purchasing a new LaserWriter, though that may change in July if Apple does release its $3300 Personal LaserWriter NT. Hewlett-Packard offers this option for its LaserWriter IIP, IID, and III. It is not available for any of the older LaserJets or for the LaserJet Series II. The cheapest of the bunch would be the IIP, which would carry a list price around $2960 with the requisite AppleTalk, PostScript cartridge, and added memory. Still not cheap, but closing in on affordable with standard discounts.

Hewlett-Packard offers more than just an attractive price. For those in a "mixed computing environment," though you have to plug and unplug the printer between PC-clones and Macs, it is works well in either environment, and depending on what you need to accomplish and what equipment you already have, this can be a big plus (although there are also ways to network PCs to Apple LaserWriters). In addition the LaserJet III looks exciting. It has a capability which Hewlett-Packard calls "Resolution Enhancement Technology." This capability allows the printer to use the extra processing bandwidth available in its 68020 CPU to think about the printout and fill in jaggies and small serifs on letters or small areas in designs with smaller-than-average dots. Hewlett-Packard claims that this gives a crisper printout and on initial examination, we were rather impressed with the output.

Pacific Data Products — 619/552-0880
Hewlett-Packard — 800/752-0900 ext. 1168
Adobe — 415/961-4400

Information from:
Tonya Byard — TidBITS Editor

Related articles:
InfoWorld — 11-Jun-90, Vol. 12, #24, pg. 24

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