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Canon BJC-85

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It's bound to happen -- you're on the road with your PowerBook and you need to print something. Yet, a visit to your hotel's business center leaves you in the lurch. Many centers don't support Macs, or if they do, their fees are stratospheric. You can save yourself time, hassle, and expense by providing your own business center with Canon's BJC-85 portable ink-jet printer.

At $299, the BJC-85 is only slightly more expensive than an entry-level ink-jet printer, yet it's much smaller and far more travel-worthy, weighing only 3.1 pounds (4.5 pounds with the AC adapter and optional battery). The printer is compact, 11.8 by 6.2 by 2.3 inches in size, with a paper tray that holds about 30 sheets of plain paper, 10 transparencies, or 5 envelopes. It has input ports for USB and parallel, plus an infrared port for wireless printing. Additionally, the printer offers a unique and compelling option: for about $100, you can replace the print head with a module that turns the BJC-85 into a 360 dpi color scanner. How cool is that?

The printer itself won't win any awards for speed or quality: the separate print heads and inks required for color graphics and photo printing don't feature as many print nozzles as today's desktop ink-jet printers, and at 720 by 360 dpi, the dot pattern is readily apparent. Still, the BJC-85's text quality is sharp and its print registration is surprisingly good. When we printed full pages with graphics, vertical lines printed without jaggies. Similarly, printed photos had no visible banding.

The print drivers that come with the BJC-85 have every bell and whistle you could expect. Plus, the print server software allows you to share the BJC-85 with other computers on an AppleTalk network. You can reverse page-printing order and collate when printing multiple copies. Another nifty feature is the ability to output directly to a PICT graphics file, handy for sending documents to someone who may or may not have the same application as you, since PICT files can be opened by Mac OS's SimpleText application.

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