Bring Photo-realism to All Sizes of Home and/or Office
From Fat Man
to Little Boy...
by Jim Bray
Once again, Hewlett
Packard has unleashed a couple of inkjet printers it promises will meet
the needs of homes and businesses.
Series" colour printer is a desktop behemoth, compared with the slimline
units one usually sees, but its also a performance behemoth that
should suit the corporate environment very well.
HP claims the 2000C brings
"laser-class performance and price" (price for sure!) to the
office, and that it operates about 30% cheaper than the average inkjet
If true, thats good news!
Inkjet printers traditionally go through the ink like eggs go through
hens, which, over the long haul, can put the lie to their initial affordability.
Now, I didnt have the
2000C long enough to go through a set of ink cartridges, but I did notice
that, thanks to the "ink level" readout included in the software,
I was getting what I thought was pretty good life.
Then again, the cartridges
for the 2000C are humongous compared with the more common ones you see
on store shelves. Not only are they big, but there are four of em,
instead of two, one of each primary colour and one for black. There are
also separate print heads that mount behind the cartridges. Installing
them is pretty straightforward, though I cussed a bit getting the print
heads in the first time because I wasnt used to the way they mounted.
This is definitely a heavy
duty printer. In fact, the version I tried (the 2000CN), comes with a
250 sheet paper bin that sits under the main unit, as well as HPs
JetDirect 300X external print server and HP JetAdmin software. This means
you can hook the 2000CN into your network and let everyone print to his
or her hearts delight or until the ink runs out.
The paper bin is also available
as a $280Cdn option.
Print quality is terrific,
from text to photographs, thanks to HPs "PhotoREt II"
technology that the company says delivers the smallest ink drops on the
market (8 picolitres, whatever that means!), thereby allowing for more
shades and faster printing speeds.
And its fast. I didnt
use a stopwatch, and Im not quite ready to believe HPs claim
of 43 seconds for a three page colour document, but this baby pumps out
the pages with more than acceptable velocity, especially for a colour
Closer to the other end of
the printing spectrum, I also got to play with HPs DeskJet 722C,
which the company calls "The sports car of home printers." Its
a lot smaller and, at $429Cdn retail, more affordable than the heavy duty
The 722 is the replacement
for the popular 820Cxi series, and as one might expect its smaller
than the previous unit and supposedly does a better job. I didnt
have the 820 handy for comparison, so Ill take HP at its word
and its words usually pretty good.
The 722C is definitely more
home or home office-oriented than its big brother, but thats okay.
It takes up minimal desk space, yet its performance is in the same league.
Its quiet, uses "PhotoREt II," and HP claims it offers
eight pages per minute black and white output, four ppm in colour.
Paper capacity seems a bit
dinky after getting used to the 2000, but no more so than the 722s
Naturally, you also get a software
bundle and this one includes Corels Print House and Photo House
Select 2.0 for creating projects and editing images.
If I had my druthers, and the
budget, Id probably opt for the 2000CN, even though its like
hunting a mosquito with an elephant gun. For real world home office needs,
however, the 722C acquits itself more than adequately.
Series" Printer Really Performs
Inkjet printers can
be a cheap way of getting into the world of colour printing, but what
happens when you up the initial ante a couple of hundred bucks over the
entry level units?
For one thing, you
reach the price range of the basic black and white laser printer, so an
inkjet printer which can be slow, whiny, and thirsty compared to
a laser printer had better offer more than just pretty colours.
Hewlett Packard seems
to have done its homework in this regard, because their DeskJet 890Cxi
"Professional" inkjet printer makes the cheaper models look,
The 890Cxi is solidly
built, easy to set up and use, and as befitting its business focus,
is configured so that multiple users can share it as long as you
get the optional HP JetDirect print servers.
Part of HPs
"Professional Series," the printer does a nice job right out
of the box. Part of the reason is HPs PhotoREt II (Photo Resolution
Enhancement technology) which, according to HP, means the 890Cxi sprays
"the smallest ink drops in the inkjet printing industry." There
are some 300 black and 192 colour nozzles a-spewin onto your page,
and we were most impressed with the rich shades and colours we got, especially
when using the special (and optional) photo paper HP just happens to make
As with many inkjets,
you can set print modes to maximize speed or quality, and even with the
"quality" settings enabled the things darn fast. You can
usually go for a coffee when printing a complex colour image from an inkjet
printer, but the 890Cxi worked at warp speed in comparison to some of
its competition. HP claims itll crank out up to 9 pages per minute
in black and 5 pages per minute in color, though they also admit that
a full page colour picture will take about four minutes.
Still, four minutes
aint bad, especially when you consider the results you get.
As one might expect,
the 890Cxi comes bundled with applications, and even here its business
focus comes through. iPublish and By Design Office (which are desktop
publishing and business template applications respectively) are more powerful
than the more entry level apps you get with lower end inkjet printers.
They still wont take the place of PhotoShop, CorelDRAW, or PageMaker,
but theyll be okay if you dont need a software howitzer.
HP says users can
expect the 890Cxi to handle 3,000 pages of black text per month or 500
full colour pages. As with other printers of this ilk, however, youd
better have a couple of extra ink cartridges handy, cause theyre
thirsty beasts. The 890Cxi works with lots of paper types, too, including
envelopes, transparencies, and labels.
DeskJet 890Cxi is a nice unit for the home office environment, offering
excellent performance for its price. While its definitely more expensive
than many inkjet printers on the market, its truly a case of "You
get what you pay for."
And with the 890Cxi,
youre getting a lot of printer.
from the JetSet
inkjet printers continue to stake out their turf as affordable, high quality
color alternatives for the home and home office.
One of the curent
examples of the breed is Lexmark's model 7000, which offers up to 1200
dpi resolution, thanks to its "laser-crafted ink nozzles." 1200
dpi output slows things down considerably, as well as upping the ink usage,
but thats the price you pay for such features.
To save time and ink
money, you can use the "Fast Draft" (300 x 600 dpi) or the "Normal"
(600 x 600) settings, only opting for the maximum resolution when it's
necessary for your final output.
Besides the resolution
parameters, theres an abundance of other settings for tweaking everything
from brightness and saturation to halftone frequency ("line art"
to "airbrush") and even the overall image quality.
You get at all these
settings from the "Printer Properties" menu, which is fine,
though we would have liked to see them duplicated on the Lexmark's Control
Program that pops up when you begin printing.
That Control Program
offers you even more stuff to mess around with, from printing a test page
to aligning - or clean - the print nozzles.
One thing we didn't
care for in the Control Program, and which can thankfully be turned off,
is the voice that reports on your print status, from "Printing started"
to "Printing complete." Duh!
A more useful feature
in the Control Program is a running tally of how much of your precious
ink is spewing onto your paper. You get a picture of both black and color
cartridges, with the levels dropping in relation to the sagging fortunes
of your cartridge.
That's a handy feature
that can prevent you from discovering the hard way that your output won't
All that said, the
7000 does a nice job. We printed out - in draft mode - a series of color
newspaper ads we'd designed and were quite satisfied with the results.
Then we tried a photographic image of an Acura NSX supercar. The final
result was quite good, and activated our drool reflexes almost as well
as the actual car does...
As with other printers,
the Lexmark 7000 comes with a set of bundled applications to get you up
and running. The Workshop CD-ROM includes the requisite greeting card,
certificate, and T-Shirt design maker, but they pale in comparison with
standalone applications like Broderbund's Print Shop. "Comic Creator"
is kind of neat - you can create your own comic books with it - though
it's limited and we have a feeling the fun would wear out before long.
You also get "LivePix" photo editing software.
In all, these applications
add value to the package, but they'll probably only whet your appetite
for something a little more hefty.
One thing you should
keep in mind if you're thinking of buying this printer is that, while
it works fine under Window 3.x and 95, there's no support for Windows
NT yet, though we understand this is in the works.
Still, if you don't
care about that and want a color inkjet that does a nice job for a reasonable
price, this Lexmark might fit the bill.
Printer Makes a Snappy Addition
Video capture through
your printer port
Lexmark has come
up with an interesting way to set at least one of its products apart from
the many competitors.
Its 7200V Colour Jetprinter
with "Ex-2" technology not only offers darn good print quality,
but the company has also included a Snappy video capture device in the
package so you can input images from your camcorder, VCR, or other video
A video capture card, which
usually hides out in an expansion slot inside your computer, may seem
like a pretty strange thing to stick inside a printer, but if youre
freaked out by the concept of opening up your PC and poking around in
its guts, youll be glad you can get the same results merely by plugging
in a printer and installing the software.
But more about the video capture
later. As far as being a printer is concerned, in our admittedly limited
time with it we found it performed very well and offered excellent print
The 7200V uses "Excimer
laser-crafted" print cartridges that can go splooey all over your
page at up to 1200 x 1200 dots per inch and when we used the "photo"
print cartridge to output some high quality photographs onto glossy photo
paper the images looked like they came right out of a photo finishing
shop. Most impressive. A nice touch is that the photo cartridge is included
in the price.
Even with regular paper, we
were very satisfied with the quality of the 7200Vs output, though
the ink takes a little longer to dry than wed like (a problem that's
also shared by some other inkjet printers weve tried).
Lexmark claims the printer
will zip through black text at up to 8 pages per minute and up to 3 ppm
in colour. In reality, while its pretty fast, the colour pages we
printed look a lot more than 20 seconds.
Still, you dont get such
a machine for its speed
As for the rather "Snappy"
idea of doing video captures through your printer, it works very well.
Snappy takes snapshots from full motion video, freeze frames, or single
images. Remember, though, you need to have a bi-directional parallel cable
for it to work; we used one of our own printer cables and, much to our
chagrin, it refused to operate the Snappy. A plaintive call for help tracked
down the problem and once we made the ol cable switcheroo, it worked
like a very warm darn!
As usual, theres a bundle
of applications included in the box to get you started, including Monotype
Greeting CardMarker and T-ShirtDesignMaker, LivePix SE, PhotoImpression,
and Web Printer, the latter of which is for printing documents (especially
from your Browser) in booklet form, ready for binding. As usual with this
type of product, theyre for the most part pretty basic apps.
A thoughtful touch weve
seen before from Lexmark is the Control Program that lets you see how
much ink is left in your cartridges, so you know when to run out to the
ink store for a new supply. It's a valuable indicator that we wish all
inkjet printers had.
And its just
one more snappy idea from Lexmark,
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think