Epson, Ricoh Make Color Laser Debuts

Ricoh ( http://www.ricoh-usa.com ) and Epson America ( http://prographics.epson.com ) both used this week's Seybold Boston show to unveil their first color laser printers. In addition, Epson has introduced two new ink-jet printers, including a wide-format model, and ColorSpan ( http://www.colorspan.com ) has introduced the first 12-color wide-format printer.

Ricoh's AP204 features 600-dpi resolution and a maximum print speed of 4 ppm in color and 16 ppm in black-and-white. The $2,395 printer handles letter-size pages in its standard 250-sheet input tray, but can also print on legal-size stocks by adding an optional second cassette. The printer includes a built-in PostScript clone controller and is expected to ship this month. Ricoh is also showing the AP305, a tabloid-format color laser printer scheduled to ship in May. Pricing has not been set.

Epson's ColorPage 8000 uses the same 600-dpi tabloid-format printing engine found in recently introduced color laser printers from QMS and Tektronix. However, while those printers use built-in controllers, the ColorPage includes an external EFI Fiery print server with built-in PostScript 3, networking, and color management capabilities. Epson will offer the printer exclusively through Ikon Office Solutions ( http://www.ikon.com ). The printer and Fiery server together will sell for less than $10,000.

Epson claims that its new Stylus Color 900--successor to the Stylus Color 850--is the world's fastest color ink-jet printer, with a maximum color print speed of 10 ppm. The four-color printer uses the same variable-dot printing technology that Epson introduced in the Stylus Color 740, but it features a smaller dot size--three picoliters versus six in the earlier model. Targeted at business users, the printer sells for an estimated street price of $449. Epson offers a networked version, the Stylus Color 900N, for $649. Both models include USB and serial ports for Mac connectivity.

The company's new wide-format printer, the Stylus Pro 9000, works will roll-fed media up to 44 inches wide. The six-color printer will sell for $13,995 with an EFI Fiery server, which includes Ethernet and LocalTalk connections for Mac connectivity. Epson will also offer a bare-bones version, sans Fiery server, for $7,995. In addition to targeting the printer at poster- and sign-making applications, Epson sees it as a viable option for fine art output.

Epson may offer six-color printing, but ColorSpan wins the hi-fi color award with its new DisplayMaker Series XII, which features a dozen 600-dpi print heads and a maximum printing width of 72 inches. You can print at standard speed with 12 colors, double-speed with two sets of six colors, or triple speed with three sets of four colors each. ColorSpan offers 52-, 62-, and 72-inch versions at prices ranging from $18,995 to $26,995.

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