Color laser printers, once used primarily as workgroup devices in offices, are fast moving into the graphic arts, as new models offer improved image quality and other features. The latest entrants are Hewlett-Packard (HP; 800/851-1170, http://www.hp.com ), which is positioning its new Color LaserJet 8500 as a short-run digital press, and Tektronix (503/682-7377, http://www.tek.com ), whose Phaser 780 is targeted at comping and proofing applications. Tektronix has also introduced a new solid-ink printer that vastly improves on the image quality of earlier solid-ink models.
HP's 600-dpi Color LaserJet 8500 is targeted as a low-cost competitor to digital color copiers. It can print 6 color letter-size pages per minute and supports paper sizes of up to 12 by 18.5 inches. Using a Canon laser engine, it boasts a 60,000-page-per-month duty cycle and can handle up to 28-pound paper in its standard 500-sheet input trays and up to 80-pound cover stocks in its 100-sheet multipurpose tray. The base version, aimed at general office applications, sells for $5,999. For graphics applications, HP recommends the $8,699 Color LaserJet 8500DN, which features a 7GB hard drive, a 10/100BaseTX print server, an extra 2,000-sheet input tray, and an automatic duplexing unit for two-sided printing. With the hard drive added, the printer can process a page once and then print multiple copies. Resolution-enhancement technology boosts image quality to the equivalent of 2,400 dpi.
Tektronix Goes Tabloid
Tektronix's Phaser 780-the company's first tabloid-format color laser printer-is based on the same Fuji/Xerox engine found in the QMS Magicolor 330 (see Product Watch, News, November 1998). The base version, priced at $4,995, offers 600-dpi color resolution. The $5,995 Phaser 780GN, aimed at graphics applications, uses resolution-enhancement techniques to boost output to 1,200 dpi. Each model includes a 10BaseT Ethernet connection as standard equipment; you can also purchase an optional 10/100BaseT adapter. It can print on 16- to 32-pound bond paper or on 80- to 120-pound card stocks. Maximum printable area is 13 by 19 inches.
Tektronix has also introduced the Phaser 740, a $1,995 color laser printer that handles letter-size paper, and the Phaser 740L, a $1,495 monochrome printer that can be upgraded to color capability by adding a $550 cartridge.
The company hasn't given up on its solid-ink printing technology, previous versions of which offered fast output speeds and low-cost consumables but mediocre image quality. The new Phaser 840, priced at $2,495, uses reformulated inks and other advances to offer a vast improvement in image quality. The letter-format printer produces 6 pages per minute in standard color mode and 10 pages per minute in draft mode. Standard resolution is 1,000 dpi, but you can boost this to 1,200 dpi by adding memory. The base version features a 200-sheet paper tray, but you can add up to two 500-sheet trays as op-tions. Other options include automatic duplexing and 100BaseT/10Base2 Ethernet.
All the new Tektronix printers feature interfaces that allow connecting a flatbed scanner, to turn them into color copiers. Many popular scanners are supported; Tektronix provides a list of them on its Web site.
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